Happy Mother’s Day to you all and a special thank you to all of the Moms. I wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to Vanessa, who is a wonderfully loving and caring Mom to Mirabelle and Reece, and  to Nini, Vanessa’s Mom, who is the best grandmother in the world and has become my second Mom.  I love you both very much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom lately.  She was a nurse anesthetist and a school nurse. I know if she were with us now, she would be back in the hospital doing her most to care for those afflicted with coronavirus.

My Mom was the wisest and most giving person I’ve ever known. She taught me the most important thing I’ve ever learned — that every single person has special gifts to share and the way you bring them out is by loving them.  Mom loved fearlessly— friends and strangers alike. Her immediate instinct when she saw someone — whether she knew them or not — was to give them a hug and tell them how beautiful they were inside and out. (She would be having a very hard time during the coronavirus because hugs by Zoom just aren’t the same). With every person she met, she took the time to make a special connection and would always make them feel important, special and loved.

Inspired by Mom, I started City Year as a way to give every young person a chance to discover their own gifts and spread more love into the world. We have seen that is the most powerful and important thing that people from City Year, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Youthbuild and all people who dedicate themselves to service do.  We need this kind of love more than ever. 

Mom also had a basket of wise and wonderful sayings to remind us what was most important in life. Here were some of her favorites:

1. “You know — I’ve never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse.”  This was Mom’s unique twist on “you can’t take it with you” and a regular reminder to focus on the spiritual, not material. 

2. “You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar.” Mom liked to remind us to focus on the positive.

3. “Don’t plant onions and expect to grow roses.” Mom’s colorful twist on “you  reap what you sow, and keep that in mind as you go about your day.

4. “Don’t get angry, kill them with kindness.” She would remind us of  this one whenever we felt slighted,  harmed, or hurt by another person.  It was her fundamental faith that love could conquer all.

5.  “Don’t give up, say a prayer to St. Anthony and he will help you.”  Mom would tell us this not only when we lost something important, but also when we were feeling lost or down due to a bad turn in life.. She would always buck us up and put things in perspective.

6. “Patience is a virtue.”  I’m finding I’m referring to that one a lot during these days.

We need Mom’s spirit now more than ever.  She continues to inspire and guide me every day.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all, especially to all of the Mom’s who are working today — our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who are risking their lives to take care of all of us, our grocery store clerks who are keeping us all fed, our teachers who are preparing their on-line classes for tomorrow and so many Mom’s who are essential workers to each and every one of us every single day. 

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well.


  • Alan Khazei is a civic activist and movement leader who for the last 35 years, has pioneered ways to empower people to make a difference. Alan is the Co-Founder and former CEO of City Year, which unites young adults, ages 17 to 24, from all backgrounds for an intensive year of full-time community service mentoring, tutoring, and educating children. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with his wife, daughter, son, and dog Zuzu.