Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

As the New Year approaches us with hopes anew, here is to wishing you and your family a wonderful year ahead.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Join Us Tomorrow for Our Last Community Clean Up of the Year!

When: Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 9am 

Where: Starbucks Downtown Fairfield 700 Jefferson St Corner of Jefferson & Texas (map)

Description: We meet every last Saturday of each month (weather permitting). We clean up different locations and neighborhoods. Please join us. All are welcome

At the Matt Garcia Foundation we don’t want to complain about this, we want to create solutions to problems. It is with this spirit that we began our Monthly Community Clean Ups.

On the last Saturday of every month, volunteers get together and clean up a neighborhood in Fairfield. We pick up trash, work on landscaping paint windows, fix fences – all in an effort to improve our community. This is another example of community coming together to help make a difference.

The Matt Garcia Foundation Dream Team, is all about stepping up and stepping out of ourselves to serve others and our communities to be a part of the solution. Matt would say ” if you see a piece of garbage on the ground, please just pick it up” How simple is that! So, that is what we do.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Creating A Community And Finding Purpose

Stephen Thompson walks you through his journey from being a ward of the state at age nine to Silicon Valley Executive and how he created a community to pave the way.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Three Types of Forgiveness and Why They Matter to Us As Leaders


We see it in public gestures like Nelson Mandela forgiving his captors after his long imprisonment or when President Ford pardoned President Nixon.

And we often see the results when there is no forgiveness.

Like in the news every day - from revenge violence to road rage to people arguing about reclining seats on airplanes.

Yes, Mandela and Ford were leaders, but how does forgiveness apply to us as "everyday" leaders?

It applies immediately and directly.

But before I share my thoughts, let's start with the three types of forgiveness. They are:

• Forgiveness of self
• Forgiveness of others
• Forgiveness of situations

As I describe each, I believe the relevance to you both personally and as a leader will become clear.
Forgiveness of Self

We all make mistakes. We all exercise poor judgment. We all screw up. It is what we do next that matters most. If, after our mistakes, we live in guilt and in the past where the mistake happened, nothing positive will come from it.

It's considered a universal truth that "we learn from our mistakes". Yet this "truth" is missing a couple of components - lessons in mistakes are there but the learning isn't guaranteed, and the learning won't come if we are living in the mistake or not willing or able to reflect on it, or won't let go of it and forgive ourselves first. A more complete statement of that truth is that "we can learn from our mistakes if we will let ourselves learn and choose to do so."

And that learning can't happen without self-forgiveness.

There are other reasons why self-forgiveness is important. It will allow ourselves to focus on the future, rather than the past, and it will allow us to reduce our stress and frustration (and makes us healthier too).

Forgiveness of Others

Admit it.

When you read the title of this article, this was probably the type of forgiveness you were thinking of.

Think for a second about the way you feel about a person who hasn't forgiven you. Do you want to be around them, or work for or with them? Are you willing to give them your best effort? Or does the barrier between you (which can include self-forgiveness too) keep you from moving forward?

When we don't forgive others, we set ourselves up for animosity, reduced productivity, more conflict and drastically lowered trust.

So how open to forgiving others are you?

Forgiveness of Situations

Things happen that might not be anyone's "fault". Do you know people who continue to dwell on a past situation that caused them grief or pain, even if it was just a situation? When we are able to forgive situations, we are able to let go of those negative feelings and move forward.

Your forgiveness of situations defines how forgiving you tend to be of negative circumstances, events, or situations that are beyond anyone's control. This would include things like illnesses, natural disasters and the like.

Can you let go of these situations so you can move forward?

If you hear yourself saying lots of "If only... " or "If it had just happened that way... " type statements, you likely have a ways to go in this area.

So What?

When we can forgive, we can move from a past focus to a future focus, which provides us with hope, accountability, and the opportunity for growth and advancement. As long as we (or others, or an entire group) are living in the past, no progress can be made.

Because error is part of being human, forgiveness allows mistakes, failure, slip ups, errors in judgment and decision making, flaws and other breakdowns to become a source of increased wisdom and learning. Without the forgiveness, the same events and situations create more divisiveness, angst, conflict and discord.

The best leaders use the practice of forgiveness to transform themselves and their organizations into forward-looking, agile learners and promote better results every day.


If you are still reading and still are having reservations, it is likely that you agree with my premise, but aren't sure how to let go. Perhaps this quotation from the psychiatrist Thomas Szasz will help - "The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget."

The point is instructive. Events, mistakes and mishaps in the past can be learned from, but only if we can let them go through forgiveness. This does not mean we should forget those events, but rather put them in the proper perspective. They are events in the past that we can't change now, but we can learn from.

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Why Are Afterschool Programs Important?

Afterschool programs are so crucial to the future children and families of America. Please let your schools in your community know that you would like these options for your kids.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Year-End Message from Teresa Courtemanche

December 2018

Dear friends and visitors of our website,

On behalf of The Matt Garcia Foundation Board of Directors, the entire Garcia-Courtemanche family, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of Holiday Seasons.

It has been ten years since my son, the late Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia, was murdered on September 1st, 2008 at the young age of twenty-two. Over the course of these difficult years, your thoughts, prayers, kind words, and support have strengthened me as a person and allowed me to be a mom to my two daughters, Briana and Tea’Rae. My husband (of 28 years), who many call Brother Ray (for the love he has for our city), and I are now grandparents to Ansel Kevin Owen, who will be one year old on December 30th of this year. We are truly blessed!

After we lost our son, we established The Matt Garcia Foundation, built on Matt’s campaign promises and philosophy: when you SUPPORT YOUTH, it will help STOP CRIME and ultimately STRENGTHEN OUR COMMUNITY.

Because of you:

• We have established youth advisory boards to mentor students through high school. Some have become actual board members of our foundation: Sakina, nineteen years of age, is an aspiring policymaker, and Briana, twenty years of age, is an aspiring school teacher. Both are in college and mentoring youth.

• This Christmas Season our community will support youth at The Matt Garcia PAL Youth Center with many after-school opportunities for tutoring and mentoring, enabling thousands of children to have a higher quality of life.

• I have helped mentor women who have lost their loved ones.

• I have gone into several prisons and spoken to hardened prisoners convicted of murder about the impact that their decisions have had on family members.

• The Matt Garcia Career and College Academy provides students the opportunity to develop themselves and become productive members of society.

• The Matt Garcia Home for Women and Children has supported hundreds of women and children, protecting them from the elements while helping them to get their lives on track.

• The foundation has hosted monthly community service days for the past ten years.

• One hundred students have received scholarships to help them advance their college careers.

As we finalize our 2018 activities and prepare for 2019, would you consider helping us financially? This is the first time that I have sent out a request asking specifically for your financial support. I am confident that this is the right thing to do. With NO paid staff, it is your generosity we rely on, which will be multiplied for generations to come. Your donations are completely tax-deductible, as we are a legitimate non-profit. I have enclosed a return envelope for your convenience, or you can go online to and donate securely there.

For all those we mentor and serve – Thank You!

Teresa, your foundation president and Matt’s Mom

Monday, December 10, 2018

How to Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground | Julia Dhar

Some days, it feels like the only thing we can agree on is that we can't agree -- on anything. Drawing on her background as a world debate champion, Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way we talk to each other so we can start disagreeing productively and finding common ground -- over family dinners, during work meetings and in our national conversations.

Friday, December 7, 2018

How to Turn a Negative Situation into a Positive One | Brian Tracy

The great business of life is to eliminate negative emotions. I’ve spent more than four-thousand hours studying how to turn negative situations into positive ones, and what I’ve discovered is that negative emotions are the single biggest enemy that any of us have. If we had no negative emotions, our lives would be wonderful -- as would our relationships, our health and everything else. Watch this video and learn how to eliminate negative feelings and take control of your emotions.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

What We Can Do About the Culture of Hate | Sally Kohn

We're all against hate, right? We agree it's a problem -- their problem, not our problem, that is. But as Sally Kohn discovered, we all hate -- some of us in subtle ways, others in obvious ones. As she confronts a hard story from her own life, she shares ideas on how we can recognize, challenge and heal from hatred in our institutions and in ourselves.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

There's More to Life Than Being Happy | Emily Esfahani Smith

Our culture is obsessed with happiness, but what if there's a more fulfilling path? Happiness comes and goes, says writer Emily Esfahani Smith, but having meaning in life -- serving something beyond yourself and developing the best within you -- gives you something to hold onto. Learn more about the difference between being happy and having meaning as Smith offers four pillars of a meaningful life.