Jenny and her two daughters won a #MyGivingStory $5,000 grant in 2016 to support The Child Mind Institute and its work on childhood selective mutism. We followed up with her this fall to talk about her experience with #MyGivingStory and how her girls have been inspired to continue to give back.

How did you find out about #MyGivingStory and what inspired you to enter the contest?

I discovered the My Giving Story contest while scrolling through Facebook one evening. I instantly knew this was an amazing opportunity for me to try to give back to The Child Mind Institute in a bigger way. My daughter's life was forever changed by this organization, and I knew this grant could help change others' lives too. I knew I had to try! I knew this was my chance to give back to a place that helped my daughter find her voice in overcoming selective mutism.

Did you do anything in particular to get the votes needed to make it into the finalists?

We shared our giving story about my daughters donating prizes to the Child Mind Institute to help other children work on building their bravery. My daughters wrote an encouraging note on each prize and we shipped the box to Child Mind Institute. After submitting our giving story, we shared it frequently on social media to get as many votes as we could. We also shared it with the Child Mind Institute as well as other support groups for selective mutism. Other parents who have children with selective mutism were incredibly helpful in sharing and promoting our story as well. They knew first hand how hard it can be to find appropriate help. It takes a village, and we all wanted the Child Mind Institute to receive this grant to help more children just like ours!

How did you feel when you found out you were the winner of one of the grants?

I vividly remember getting the email saying our story was chosen as a second place $5,000 winner. I was getting ready to start my day at work when I read it and literally squealed out loud. I got teary-eyed thinking about how many families this grant would help. My family was blessed to go to the Child Mind Institute because of their generous financial aid program, and this grant meant other families would experience the same hope and help that we did. I'm pretty sure I had a permanent grin for weeks. It was the best email!

How has the past year gone for you and your work?

In the last year, my daughters have sent two more big prize boxes to help children at the Child Mind Institute and are currently working on putting together another one. The Child Mind Institute has continued to help many children overcome selective mutism and find their brave voice. They are changing lives on a daily basis. Families from all over the world travel there because of their generous financial aid and amazing clinicians who are dedicated to transforming children's lives. This grant allowed them to help many children.

My daughters enjoyed giving back so much that they started another project over the summer to help spread awareness for selective mutism. They started a lemonade project called "get loud with lemonade" and along with other children across the states they raised $1,000 for the Selective Mutism Association. Winning the #MyGivingStory contest really inspired them to keep on giving. We are so grateful for this generous contest and having the opportunity to give back to a non profit that we hold very close to our hearts. It still makes me smile knowing that children had access to appropriate mental health care this year because of this grant! It's pretty incredible!