What Disney, Ellen, and Traveling With Monkeys Have in Common

As we gear up for the Valentines Edition of the Family Service Challenge thoughts on the WHY of this movement are often on my mind. A friend of mine recently asked, “What emotional incentive do people have to participate and share this challenge, instead of filing it away as a good idea but never doing it?”  It’s a valid question, I’m grateful she asked,  and I thought to answer it in this post.

First, this video I recently saw on Facebook really hits home to the heart of the challenge and conveys better than I could why it is so important. It is a clip from CNN and is a letter, being read, written in regards to one of the Turpin children that have been all over the news recently. Please take a minute to watch.

As I listened to that letter and envisioned the school life that little girl endured (on top of her horrific home life), it completely broke my heart. While the letter was well written, and I respect the author for having written it, I couldn’t help but think that it was too little too late (although the other part of me loved that it did, in fact, get written because you can’t really ever be too late to do good).  But it illustrates my point. Children can be vicious, and when put in a peer pressure situation a mob mentality can easily ensue.

One of the foundational goals of the Family Service Challenge is to teach our children, in a way that has a lasting impact, about service and kindness. It is important to show them, help them participate in, and let them feel the benefits of this social interest. No manner of teaching is so far-reaching or maintains such a long-lasting impact.

As I’ve mentioned in other articles (like this one), Alfred Adler, the forefather of modern psychology discovered that one’s mental health was directly tied to the amount of social interest in which one participates.  Young minds are trying to figure out the way the world works and they struggle with self-identity, self-acceptance, and self-awareness.  I can’t think of a better way to let them experience and correlate the mental health benefits that serving others can have on their lives. The impact of learning that at a young age can set the values they embrace far into the future.

Disney, Ellen, and Traveling With Monkeys

Let’s talk for a minute about some of our beloved pop culture icons.


Disney is an entity, world, and culture unto its own. There are myriad reasons why people love and throng to Disney Parks.  The streets are always clean, the rides are always fun, and the people are always happy. Not just the people that visit Disneyland, but the people that work there are always happy too! Have you noticed?

One of the coolest things about Disney Parks is that they are always looking for ways to celebrate and serve YOU, their guests.  They give out pins for anyone celebrating a birthday, an anniversary, a first visit, or a specific holiday (one year we went on Mother’s Day and they gave me a pin for that! ) Employees look for these pins and go out of their way to say a kind word to you, wish you happiness, or even give you free dessert!

My friend’s surprise Disneyland dessert.

A friend of mine recently spent her 40th Birthday at Disneyland.  She told me:

“Earlier today we were watching the show at the Golden Horseshoe when all of the sudden a worker walked up, put this on our table and said ‘This is for your birthday.’ No clue where it came from. Everyone should get to spend their birthday in Disneyland.#bestbirthdayever “

Disney embodies, teaches, and encourages their employees to serve others in more ways than your typical service industry. I believe that it is this value that leads to truly happy employees that love their jobs, sincerely making it the happiest place on earth.

Ellen DeGeneres

This wildly popular and lovable comedian whose talk show is one of the top three rated daytime TV shows on syndicated television is another fantastic example of doing good. Yes, she is fun, funny, and crunk (thank you urban dictionary). She has fabulous guests, high energy games, and plays hilarious pranks. But the thing that sets her apart and keeps her viewers coming back is her heart. She spends more money and airtime on doing good and giving to others than any person on live TV of which I am aware. Her “12 days of giveaways” are always a hit, and yes, everyone wishes they could be there, but she is consistently giving away cars, scholarships, and big checks of money to people that truly need it. And why does she do it? Well. . . I’d love to sit down and ask her, but I am willing to bet that it’s because she knows the selfish secret to giving. Bringing happiness to others is the fastest way to find peace, happiness, and a positive mindset for oneself.

Traveling With Monkeys

While I won’t even begin to claim a spot as a pop culture icon, we at TWM find ourselves in good company with some pretty impressive people when it comes to our desire to do good. The Family Service Challenge was created to inspire more people to get out and do their own good where ever they are in the world. To teach our kids, that kind and simple things are an act of service. We want to help heal the world and encourage others to leave the world better than they found it. After all in the wise words of Howard Zinn:

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world.”


While I have outlined the main benefits of participating in the Family Service Challenge, there is one more I would like to shine a light on. Accountability. As my friend mentioned to me, it is easy for someone to see a service idea and think, great, I should do that, and then file it away without taking action. Participating in the Family Service Challenge gives people the opportunity to own it. It simplifies the process and unifies others that are like minded. It allows you to be an advocate for doing good by sharing it with others. Like every worthy goal, it sets a time frame for when it is to get accomplished, and gives you a purpose for accomplishing it.

We ask that you join with us this Valentine’s season to bring light to those that NEED love. To leave the world better than you found it and to participate in the Valentine’s Edition of the Family Service Challenge.

#familyservicechallenge Valentine's Edition

The #familyservicechallenge was initiated in an endeavor to turn our focus outward, to teach our children the importance of cultivating this value, and to inspire others to leave the world better than they found it.
Mykee Saunders

Mykee Saunders


As a writer and mom of four who loves to travel, Mykee designed this website to share tips, tricks, and destinations for meaningful family adventures.  She is passionate about service and recently spearheaded the #familyservicechallenge movement.