Below are just a few photos of our many volunteers who are always willing to move mountains to “do a good deed.” Our organization has only grown through the years, with all of our members introducing their friends, and friends of friends, to the Foundation. All are eager to join and to share in the spirit of Chelsea, who brought them all together and we welcome them and their new initiatives and ideas with open arms.
The Chelsea Morrison Foundation has changed the lives of hundreds of families through various initiatives and donations since its inception in 2001. Born out of the proverb “do good deeds in her name” given to the Morrison family by the Abbot of a monastery in Pah Leurat in Thailand, the Morrisons began The Chelsea Morrison Foundation to commemorate Chelsea Lynn Morrison, their beloved family member who died in a car accident in January 2000.
The Foundation began with a “Birthday Letter” sent out every year on Chelsea’s birthday to give her friends and loved ones the ability to donate to the Foundation so that it could “do good deeds in her name.” Our volunteers, however, knew there was an opportunity to do so much more and CMF quickly expanded and evolved. Today, CMF can boast a variety of accomplishments – from mentoring inner-city youth to providing scholarships for underprivileged New York City area students and many more. The foundation has become an impressive community of volunteers that continues to grow each year. As one Executive Director of one of NYC’s leading nonprofits exclaimed, “I have been involved in the volunteer business for more than 17 years and have never seen anything like the Chelsea Morrison Foundation.”
We at CMF pride ourselves on sticking to the core values of the wonderful girl who is our namesake. Chelsea was a joyful, caring, and giving person with a thirst for life and a love for those around her. We strive to spread that contagious aura through each of our initiatives and want our foundation to give our volunteers the vehicle to do good in the community around them.
Learn more about just a few of our many volunteers by clicking on each photo.
Celebrate with the Chelsea Morrison Foundation by going back in time to review our good deeds. Many of our projects are ongoing and all have had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
Present - 2008
CMF High School Scholarship Program
CMF collaborates with the Inner-City Scholarship Fund Program every September to provide a four-year private school scholarship to two New York City area freshman students. At any given time, the foundation has eight inner city students in private schools throughout the city. We celebrate this initiative with a family style dinner with all of our students and several CMF volunteers at the Morrison’s home. Watching our CMF students grow through their high school years has been deeply rewarding and sentimental.
Summer Camp for Matthew
2012 - 2008
More than 300 honor-level, inner city students in New York City were matched with a CMF volunteer to mentor them on a one-on-one level through the daunting college application process. Each CMF mentor met their student in the spring of their junior year to encourage them through the process and establish a friendship. Click on the images below to learn more about our students.
Mt. Sinai Child Psychiatric Unit Fund
CMF donated funds to the staff of Mt. Sinai Child Psychiatric Unit so that they could provide the children who spent Christmas in the hospital with some gifts and holiday cheer to celebrate the holidays. Please click on the link below to read more.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
CMF has fully funded the launch of an extensive DVD movie library for the pediatric patients of Memorial Sloane-Kettering Hospital. Our hope is that this makes chemotherapy treatments and long waits for procedures a less grueling experience for our young friends.
2008 - 2007
Apple Picking with Ronald McDonald House
2006 - 2005
Peace Pals is a pen pal program based on the notion that the simple exchange of a written note can make a world of difference to a child who needs to know that someone cares. In collaboration with the Peace Games Program, CMF volunteers were matched with a young inner-city grade school child and supported them in their academic and social struggles and achievements on a one on one basis via personal letters.
CMF donated monies for the reconstruction of orphanages that had been destroyed by the tsunami in Thailand through the CARE foundation.
Incarnations Children's Center
Chelsea appeared on the Rosie O’Donnell Show as a guest announcer in May of 1998 to represent the children of Incarnation Children’s Center. So in 2003, we went back to the place that touched her heart and donated non-invasive medical equipment for the children living with HIV/AIDs at NYC’s Incarnations Children’s Center. We also donated computers, X-boxes and TV sets for the children’s pleasure.
CMF joined with CARE in Afghanistan to fund a Fast Track Program that addressed the needs of girls ages 9 to 14 years old who received little or no education during the five years of the Taliban Rule. The program allowed the girls to compensate for their lost schooling in an accelerated 18 month program to obtain the education level appropriate for them to join their peers and complete their studies at grade level in Kabul’s public schools.
CMF joined with CARE in Kosovo to help fund their Support or Traumatized Children, which provided after-school programs to help counteract the profound trauma that the Kosovo war inflicted on the children of that area.
Chelsea worked with her fourth grade class to collect blankets and canned food for these very same children.
Remembering Chelsea through stories, videos, and the legacy that has touched so many.
Videos of Chelsea
Eulogy at Chelsea’s Funeral
Written and Delivered by Cam Hardy
I am deeply honored to speak about Chelsea. I found myself getting a bit overwhelmed initially, at the thought of representing so many people who were touched by her. All of us here today know the exuberance and generosity of Chelsea’s spirit. I ask you to take a moment to look around you, holding in your mind that each one of us had the privilege of seeing Chelsea’s beautiful eyes sparkle, her big smile that asked you to smile back.
This is what we now know of Chelsea: her sparkle, her beauty, her smile are in and amongst and surrounding all of us. The comfort in remembering this, in knowing this, gives me the strength to express my love, which is our love for Chelsea.
I find this expression in two images: a snow angel and a rainbow.
I went to bed on Monday night, as I’m sure we all did, exhausted, in a daze, almost afraid for the morning to come – for further waves of grief to catch up with me again. When I awoke yesterday morning, I sensed the quiet of the snowfall before I saw it. When I looked out upon it, I was both at peace and captivated by a spontaneous image of Chelsea bounding our of her dorm and onto the quad.
I saw her falling backward in a white spray, and moving her arms and legs up and down to make a snow angel. This was an imagined moment, but also one which I know was very much a part of Chelsea’s experience of surrendering herself to revelry. It is one of the great gifts that Chelsea gave to us by example: to release ourselves from struggle by jumping into life, wrestling with it, reveling in it. She questioned absolute rules for living when they left no time for play. As her advisor, I challenged her to focus on academic work and her responsibilities – which she did; she challenged me in my occasional adult uptightness to loosen up a bit.
Gently and deliberately, she invoked me to make a snow angel, to let a snowflake fall on my eyelashes and melt on my tongue – and I did. She, through her own struggles and pain, released herself to live and love.
On Monday, we held a voluntary memorial service at school. It came as no surprise to me that the Chapel was full. The service was a wonderful and very healing opportunity for us to share our thoughts and remembrances of Chelsea. She was remembered by several students for being the first to reach out to them when they came to campus as a new student. She was remembered for her unencumbered style of dress, her ability to pull off her outfits because of her spirit. Chelsea was remembered as a peacemaker, who intervened when others were not at peace and worked toward reconciliation first. She was remembered as a source of happiness, as a source of strength, as a source of truth and love. I was one of many who was privileged to know her deep love – for which there are no words – for her mother Jody, her father Carlos, and her brother Tommy. She was remembered by those who couldn’t even speak for themselves – our children. We remembered for them how Chelsea included our children in her life. She played along with them and in equal measure to what she offered her many friends she offered our children true affection and care. They, in their 2-5 year old ways, returned that authentic affection for her.
A final remembrance was by a student who said that she did not even know Chelsea well. I’m not sure I can recount as well as she, but it is one which I share, for we both were with Chelsea on Halloween. The school offered for students to sign up to trick-or-treat with faculty children as long as they dress up. Chelsea showed up as a rainbow, with every color represented, from head to toe, in some article of clothing or another. The trouble was that none of us knew what she was – not even our children – whose imagination she could so brilliantly capture. She kept asking, “Guess what I am, guess what I am!” and no one could guess. So finally she got down on her back and then arched into a backbend and said, “See, I’m a rainbow!”
And indeed Chelsea was and is a rainbow, for a rainbow emerges from darkness and turbulence into light and brilliant color. It arches all over us in its beauty and wonder. It invokes us boldly, it dares us in its splendor to be playful, to be joyful, to emerge from our darkness in light and love.
Where does it end?
We offer our thanks, Chelsea, to your family and to God for the many gifts that you brought to us. Chelsea, your spirit is arching over us like a rainbow and surrounding us in peace, like the snow that you used to make angels.
Commencement Address to Millbrook School, Class of 2002
Written and Delivered by Jody Morrison
May 31, 2002
This is a great day and an important opportunity to share with you one more time. I know this Millbrook Class of 2002. You have shared with me in my greatest sorrow and we now share together again in great celebration. Your celebration.
The joining again of this class and me today exemplifies life’s most basic miracle. Leave be hurdles and crisis, accomplishments and successes, life continues to unleash us. And the human spirit naturally responds in a direct movement forward, to forge on, continue, grow, learn and find joy in these things.
So it is with joy that I acknowledge the successes that have brought you here today.
You move forward with three gifts in your pocket.
The first is your family. Your brilliance did not drop upon you out of the sky but is the direct manifestation of those who love you, witness your person, and criticize you along the way. They give support to your charms and defense to your struggles. Your family is what launches your own individuality. Your family has made great sacrifice for you in these past four years. Find time today to thank them. It is important.
You have the gift of Millbrook School. An environment meticulously designed to provide you a learning environment that now becomes the platform from which your future unfolds. Thank them in continued support in the years ahead. It is important.
And the most powerful gift of all is you. You: the unique individual whose “one voice” makes you irreplaceable to all of the earth’s population. You are ever so important.
With these three gifts you step outside the protective umbrella of your loving family, and the support of Millbrook School with your unique self into the front row of the arena of this small world of ours.
And I believe it is a better world. This class and I have experienced tragedy together but we have also learned from tragedy. Chelsea died. 9/11 was shocking. And we have learned together that everything has a reason and through reason comes Divine Good. Good things can come from tragedy. Good always comes from bad. Always.
Mark Twain made an observation that the human is the only creature to be taught everyday how to becomes more human. “Cows don’t have to be taught how to be a cow,” he observed. Think of that: Birds just go off and fly! But us beings that are human have a great opportunity: by the very act of living each day, we can become more human. What a great concept. What an opportunity! And when you look at it that way, don’t you sort of look forward to each day? Each lesson? Each hurdle? Don’t the hurdles of everyday life themselves become opportunities? They are. That is exactly what a hurdle is.
I believe that each hurdle I confront is a point on the map of my own personal destiny. I believe that they are life’s way of bringing me back onto the path I belong. I believe that each hurdle is an opportunity.
You will encounter hurdles by the very act of living a full life. They come every day. For many of you, this may be the idea that you are about to leave home, or enter college with absolutely no idea of a major in mind. It could be the tug of a needy friend just when you are hitting your stride, or the need of an ear just when you thought you were about as independent as possible. It’s those times when you realize – almost against your will – the difference between your easy wants and your true needs. For me, it is usually when I am so sure that I am standing in the exact place I planned and then the universe conspires to put me on foreign territory. A hurdle is usually when you need to make a choice. It’s always when you need to make a change.
Some are simple, some more difficult. But I have made the choice to believe my hurdles are mine. And if I own them, truly believe these obstacles are the pivots of my destiny, the growing of my character; I can approach them with ease. They are not cement walls. I can stop and view the hurdle clearly. No need to avoid, for fear of losing opportunity. No need to shimmy around it nor take a blind eye. The bottom line becomes not whether I can jump the hurdle but how gracefully can I get over it?
Grace. With desire to take my hurdles gracefully, a remarkable effect is imposed on both my process and the end result. Choosing to gracefully overcome my hurdles removes any notion of blame to others. Anger dissolves and there is no room for pity to my circumstances. It is my hurdle. While focusing on my own ability, my own responsibility, to take my hurdles gracefully, an unshakable strength, a firmness of mind settles in. My hurdles become the fertile ground to challenge my purpose, my beliefs, and to strengthen those things.
Even in the worst of circumstances, I promise you will have a profound sense that you have just cleared a hurdle. With grace, you have pivoted in the direction of your life path, read the road signs and taken a lesson meant only for you. By taking your hurdles with grace you will never live in a state of “dis-grace.”
And while I would never wish this upon you, you can probably assume that at least once in your life you will not be looking at a hurdle, but at a crisis. A frightening and overwhelming event. Becoming a world-class hurdling athlete will not make you immune. It happened to me. It happened to New York City. It happened to the United States of America. And we have learned where grace is used; there is a redefining, a new resolve, an inner strength. Good can come from crisis.
The Chinese, whose centuries-old written language provides astounding wisdom, offers a great support for their concept of “crisis”. Their language, written in characters, has an interesting translation of the “crisis.” It is written in the form of combining two characters, one above the other. If you isolate the top character, it literally translates into “danger.” When you isolate the second, lower character just below, it translates as “opportunity.” “Crisis” equals “danger” plus “opportunity”. And there is that word again.
If you remember just one thing I say today, I hope it is this: God created you in His image. You are a creator. Remember the three gifts in your pocket. Your Family, Millbrook School and your unique self, and blend them always to create your voice. You are a creator! And the power of your voice can make this a better world. I know this is true. It happened to me.
In the end, I am just “Jody.” I have no more talent or tool than each of you. There is no profit for me in working to eliminate the conditions that caused guaranteed death on a 104-mile roadway that I will never use. But it is my responsibility to use my voice. One voice. It really just comes down to a few things in my pocket: my family, my education and my uniqueness that leads to my successes.
A quick story: I wrote a letter to Mayor Giuliani of NYC requesting that he acknowledge the two young policemen who came to my door that Sunday afternoon, as no person can be trained to have such compassion and kindness as those two men had for me. I don’t know why I did it. I just did. And I forgot about it.
Almost a year later I received a call from a stranger who asked if I was the mother who wrote the letter. After a few check points in the introduction of the conversation, she burst, “I found you! I found you! Do you know that your letter is in the back offices of every police precinct throughout NYC? Do you know that the Chief of Police in Brooklyn has kept a copy of the letter in his wallet every day since he read it? That he has handed out hundreds of copies? Do you know that that letter has been read at the graduation of cadets into the Police Force?” I did not. But I knew one thing. The power of ‘one voice’ can change others forever.
And yes, there will be hurdles, and there my be crisis, but with focus on these being the pivots of your own life map and a personal grace activated, you deepest struggles will become your greatest strength.
Don’t ever be so taken with you successes or so drowned by your failures that you loose sight of your three gifts. They are there in your pocket. They always will be. They are your power. They give you your voice.
And this is why emotions run so high this morning. This is the excitement that reverberates today. Each of you now steps out into this new world with the power of your “one voice.” And we all honor you as we stand in awe of your potential. Today, each of you begins your own unique journey with your three gifts, your one voice. It is important.
My wish for you is Joy, always Joy … and Grace in your life,
Congratulations, Millbrook Class of 2002.
This is a great day.
History of Me
Want to help share in our mission of doing good deeds in Chelsea’s memory and honor? Please consider making a PayPal donation to the Chelsea Morrison Foundation so we can pay it forward with our volunteer efforts and charitable events.