Reflections on 2020

Dear Friends of Friends Outside: 

As the year comes to a close, I suspect that many are looking forward to kicking it figuratively to the curb and toasting its conclusion on New Year’s Eve.  It has been a trying year at the least.  One of my personal guidelines is “If I am going to go through H – e – double hockey sticks, I am going to learn from it.”  Here is a partial list of my lessons learned.  I share them with the hope that we as members of humanity remember to take a few moments to do what we can to make 2021 a little better for us all.   

  • Take nothing for granted.  Many people lost loved ones very unexpectedly and under the most hideous of circumstances.  And, who would have imagined 20 years ago that in one short year people would visit New York City and not see the World Trade Center in the skyline.   Ultimately, everything, even brick and mortar, is transitory and can disappear much more quickly than we might have ever imagined.
  • Take care of my health.  When horrible diseases come around, people with better health have better chances of surviving.
  • Take care of our democracy.   200+ years old, it is easy to take for granted but also fragile as a rose.  Vote.  Hold public officials accountable.  Fight to defend my beliefs.
  • Take care of our planet.  Do something every day to restore Planet Earth.  As I saw on a t-shirt, “There is no Planet B.” 

And, finally, remember to thank the persons who have helped you.  So, a big “Thank you” to the persons who have supported our Mission in 2020.  The need became greater and so many people rose to the occasion by donating their money and time to help ensure that we could continue to do our important work. 

As the year ends, I wish each of you an enjoyable and healthy Holiday and hope that our actions in 2021 are informed by what we have learned in 2020.


Mary Weaver

Executive Director

IRS allowing a special charitable tax deduction this year

Dear Friends of Friends Outside:
The IRS is allowing a special charitable tax deduction this year for people who do not plan to itemize their 2020 taxes next year. Every donation is important and will be put to good use, in support of children and families affected by the criminal justice system. Thank you for your consideration and we hope you all have a nice and healthy holiday season.

Here’s how to get this year’s special charitable tax deduction

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN Business

Updated 9:27 AM ET, Sun December 20, 2020

The pandemic has put millions of Americans in dire financial straits, forcing many to rely on charities to adequately feed and clothe their families and stave off homelessness.

So this year the government has offered an added incentive for Americans to donate to charity. As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, lawmakers created a special one-time deduction to encourage other Americans with some cash to spare to make donations this year. The deduction, which expires on December 31, applies to tax filers who take the standard deduction on their federal tax return. The IRS estimates more than 87% of filers now take the standard deduction.

Normally, only itemizers may claim their charitable contributions, because the lump-sum standard deduction (currently $12,400 for single filers; and $24,800 for married filers) is intended to cover most deductions.  But this year, on top of taking your standard deduction, you also may take a deduction for cash contributions up to $300, so long as you donate that money by December 31. (Note: It does not apply to non-monetary contributions such as clothing or food.)

Although the IRS doesn’t require receipts to be filed with your return, be sure to keep a record of any money you give. “Make sure you document it. Keep your receipts for your cash donations in case you get asked about it later,” said Kathy Pickering, the chief tax officer for H&R Block.  If you’re making a one-time contribution of $250 or more to a single charity or non-profit, get a written acknowledgment of your donation from the organization, Pickering said. If you make donations below $250 to any single group, a canceled check or bank or credit card statement indicating proof of payment should suffice.  And if you’re making contributions through an employer-sponsored giving campaign in which your donation is deducted directly from your paycheck, then your paystub can serve as proof.  One other note: Those who are single or married and filing jointly may deduct up to $300 on their returns, but taxpayers who are married but filing separately may only deduct up to $150 each, Pickering said.

What you’ll be saving

Taking the deduction will of course reduce your tax burden.  For someone in the 12% tax bracket — which applies to single filers making up to roughly $40,000 and married couples making up to about $80,000, according to H&R Block — the deduction would reduce the tax bill by $36 (12% x $300.)  For someone in the 22% bracket, that amount jumps to $66.  But more than the money it saves, any tax-deductible contribution you make can go a long way toward helping charitable organizations — especially the smaller, local ones — continue to be a lifeline for so many in need this year.  Nearly three-quarters of Charity Navigator-rated nonprofits reported that they have suffered financially this year, while more than half have seen an increase in demand, and more than half said they had to cut back on programs.

Giving Tuesday

Dear Friends of Friends Outside:

During a previous Thomas Fleming Rhodes Memorial Holiday Party, young Adam looked up at me and said, “This is the only fun thing my family has done this whole year.” This was not a surprising statement for me. Over the past 30 years I have gotten to know children with incarcerated parents and their families well. Their stories are too similar. And, too many are from impoverished families and live in crime-ridden communities.

Except for an occasional visit to a prison or jail (to keep family bonds strong), their families have limited social lives and cannot afford to participate in the parties that most of us take for granted during the December Holidays. Their children quietly suffer, feel different, and are ashamed of their circumstances.

Your support has enabled us to plan special parties for these children at the time of year that is the most difficult for them. One year a mother told me after the party that her child had thought he was the only one with an incarcerated parent. He then realized he was not alone and didn’t feel so different from the other kids!

Your support for the parties to be held in December will make a world of difference for these children. Won’t you say YES to assuring that they have a wonderful Holiday through your support as follows:

Sponsor: Your $5,000 or $1,000 gift will be the “frosting on the cake” for each party and will enable us to do so much for the families throughout the coming year.

Co-Sponsor: Your $500 gift will sponsor 10 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Family Sponsor: Your $100 gift will sponsor 2 families for the party and help us to provide services to them during the coming year.

Supporter: Your $50 will be used where it is most needed to support the Holiday Party and to provide services to the families during the coming year.



Mary Weaver

Executive Director

P.S. Won’t you please take a moment now to make your tax-deductible donation via PayPal or by sending your check to our offices at 261 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste. 217, Pasadena, CA, 91101? Your contribution will also be a present to yourself when you experience the great joy of what it means to help others who are less fortunate, the true meaning of this special time of year.