This article was published as part of #GivingTuesday's #WomenWhoGive series, which celebrates women who give back in their communities.

Courtney Shorter is the Owner and Creative Director of Ryan Morgan Events + Design.  Read Courtney's story and what inspires her to give back in the interview below.

Q1: How do you give back? (Please include the name(s) of any organizations you support.)

I am very active in my community and give back by:

  • Donating proceeds from Ryan Morgan Events to The Maddy Wagon and Extraordinary Birthdays.
  • Developed and organized the Maddy Bowl to raise funds and awareness for The Maddy Wagon and children with cancer.
  • Raised funds and walked with Children’s National Health System’s Race for Every Child
  • Raised funds and walked for the March of Dimes
  • Participated in a shelter makeover through My Girlfriend’s House, where I helped raise funds and in-kind donations for a family’s room in women and children’s  shelter

Q2: What inspired you to start giving?

Maya Angelou said, “When you get, give and when you learn, teach,” yet this was my mother’s philosophy. My mother instilled in us the importance of giving through voice and action. Giving to others was a priority for my mom and became a priority for me. I remember volunteering as early as my junior high school years.  In High School, I tutored, volunteered at a local day care center, and always donated my time in college and as a part of my Sorority activities.

Q3: What does giving mean to you?  Why do you continue to give your time, talents, money, or more to your community?

My husband, Mike and I have experienced a lot of tragedy in our time together. The loss we’ve endured has fueled our passion to give and help others. Now our friends and family give because of our commitment and dedication to giving. Giving means that you leave this world a little better than the way you’ve found it, you also help your community and the lives of others when you give.  It also makes my soul feel good to give!

Q4: What would you tell others who are looking to start giving back?  Share a piece of advice will help them get started.

I would tell others:

  • Do good and be a good person now!
  • If you’re only taking (and taking and taking…), you are not contributing anything to this world. You’re not helping to make the world a better place.
  • Don’t give for accolades or great images for your social media. Give because you can.  Even if a person ONLY has 30 min in day to donate time, it’s 30 min that could make someone’s day.
  • Your giving doesn’t have to be million dollar BIG. Your time, talents, and resources can go a long way.

Q5: Please share a favorite moment or story from when you volunteered or donated to an organization.

My favorite volunteer moment was when I participated in a shelter makeover with My Girlfriend’s House. The organizer assigned each team of volunteers a family apartment to makeover within the shelter.

I remembered getting our family assignments and learning that it was the daughter’s birthday. I shared this news with my team and without any hesitation my team kicked into high gear. We went above and beyond to make this little girl’s birthday special. We went out and purchased dolls, books, and crayons, and other fun girl items for a surprise basket just for this little girl. This was a major deal, because we were warned not to do anything specific for members of the family. The organizer allowed this gesture because it was the girl’s birthday. At the end of the volunteer project the team surprised me with a Starbucks gift card, my favorite, and for me.. that was all I needed to feel like it was one of the best days ever!

Another great memory was the Maddy Bowl we planned for #GivingTuesday 2016. This event was the highlight of my year.

We called on men and women in the events industry for a night of fun, food, and bowling at Pinstripes in Georgetown. All of proceeds went to The Maddy Wagon, a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of childhood cancer, funds for cures, and support children with cancer and their families.  Seeing Maddy and her family at the event warmed my heart.  Proceeds were donated and the family  used the funds to help other families celebrate the holidays!

When Madison, affectionately known as Maddy, was diagnosed with stage four High-Risk Neuroblastoma cancer found in the adrenal glands (small glands on top of the kidney) at the age of three her parents were moved to found The Maddy Wagon. Due to symptoms from the cancer and the large tumor in her belly, Maddy could not walk. She used a red wagon to get around.  Hearing her story and seeing this wagon made me want to do something.. even if the giving was not “million dollar big.”