“There is a child in every one of us who is still a trick-or-treater looking for a brightly-lit front porch.”
It is hard to believe today is Halloween. This year I will not have trick or treaters at my door or candy to give away. This year, for the first time in a long time, we will be Halloween observers, not participators. That is not a bad thing, it is just simply what it is.
Wherever you may land on the Halloween scale this year, I hope it is a fun filled night filled with smiles, community, friends and of course lots of tricks and treats!
As we wrap up our week on dreaming big, I can’t let the moment go by unnoticed, that I am not the only dreamer in my family. While my husband and sons enjoy reading Charity Matters, they have been pretty clear that they do not much enjoy being written about. However, when you are married to an entrepreneur who has spent the last two years dreaming of a product and that dream becomes a reality….well I had to make the exception….whether he likes it or not.
As I have mentioned before, I am married to a tri-athele who loves to spend time outside, running and cycling. A few years back, when he was riding with a buddy using ear buds, he watched as his friend was almost hit by a car because he didn’t hear it coming.
That moment got him thinking, dreaming and trying to find a way to eliminate ear buds. Well, my dreamer has not given up and has given everything to see his dream become a reality. Last week he officially gave birth to his dream, AudioNoggin. Wireless surround sound blue tooth speakers that mount on your helmet or hat and produces amazing sound. He is creating an Earvolution and a new way to hear your music.
Like all dreams, whether starting a non-profit, a blog, writing a television show or dreaming of a product….they all take a community of people to become a reality. Since you are my community, I had to share this moment with you.
Christopher Reeve said it so well, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”
This past weekend, I had the rare itch to clean out some old files and office clutter. In the process, I discovered a notebook from 2012 where I journaled about a television show called Charity Matters. A show that would tell the stories of amazing and inspiring people who change our world through their service to others. I found a dream that had been filed away, literally.
Truth be told, I did forget about the notebook but not the dream. When Charity Matters began, it did begin as a dream….one that woke me up in the middle of the night, it was so real. I was so awakened that I grabbed my journal and wrote this vision down.
In the weeks that followed, I researched writing television shows. I reached out to friends in the industry on how to register an idea and a tv show with the writers guild…all of which I actually did. Then I thought, what am I doing? I don’t have the first clue how to actually do this. Then again, I didn’t know how to start a non-profit either and figured that out….. but somehow this seemed a dream a bit too big.
So, that is when the dream was altered, scaled back to become this blog. Something else, I also didn’t have the first clue about, but like most everything, I just did it. As I sit here hundreds of posts and followers later, it still seems like a dream. The incredible people I have met, interviewed, been inspired by and all of you…who constantly cheer me on along the way.
As I look at this dusty notebook, it feels like it might be time to dust off the dream again. Why not? Filing dreams away doesn’t keep them alive, dreams are meant to inspire, motivate and energize us. If there is one things that makes me happy it is all of the above….so here is to dreaming big!
Don’t you love it when your worlds collide? As many of you know I have been a passionate supporter at an all boys school in Watts, called Verbum Dei, also referred to as “The Verb.” The Verb is a school where young men come from poverty, are given a white-collar job one day a week and attend school the remaining four days. One hundred percent of these amazing young men are accepted to four-year colleges.
Another school, that I am a passionate supporter of is Texas Christian University, also known as TCU. A school that has incredible connection culture and a spirit of kindness. The other day, it was brought to my attention that one of our Verb boys is at TCU playing football as a Quarter back, his name is Caylin Moore.
Caylin was raised in poverty by a loving single mother. He went to Verbum Dei High School, where he was a star student and athlete. This past week he was recognized for his community service work as the founder of SPARK, which stands for Strong Players Are Reaching Kids. A TCU Student organization whose mission is to, “Inspire the youth to rise above their circumstances, build bridges to success and ultimately spark a change in their communities.”
Caylin and his fellow TCU athletes are traveling around the Fort Worth community inspiring children to reach for their dreams, regardless of where they are starting. Caylin uses his own story to encourage others. As he said, “I’ve seen how important education is and how it can change a life.”
One amazing young man and two incredible institutions collide to create a SPARK of goodness for so many.
The last two weeks have been crazy ones, filled with meetings, deadlines for non-profit I work for and many fun non-profit events. One of the fun nights out was a wonderful event welcoming the Rams to LA. In return the Rams brought their philanthropy partnership with regional food banks, a Taste of the NFL, from St. Louis to LA, all to support those in need.
Many of you may remember a post from long ago, about the beginnings of the LA Regional Food Bank, which started with a man named Tony Collier. He was a cook who saw leftovers going to waste and decided to do something about it.
Sound simple enough? As a cook, for a Los Angeles based non-profit, Tony received more donations than he needed. So, he decided he needed to share his leftovers with other charities that were trying to feed the hungry as well. Tony had heard about a food bank in Phoenix that had done something similar and decided to bring that model to Los Angeles and founded Los Angeles Regional Food Bank in 1973.
From the very beginning the 200 square foot garage quickly filled up and soon had to move into a converted 2,600 square foot dry cleaning facility in Pasadena. By the early 1980’s Tony’s simple idea was distributing more than 3.5 million pounds of food to over 70 different agencies in LA.
Today, The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank distributes 65 million pounds of food or the equivalent of 42.4 million meals. The LA Food Bank served over 320,000 peopleper month with the help of 32,000 volunteers.
One man’s simple idea is no longer housed in a garage but now resides in a 96,000 square foot facility that distributes the food to over 653 different agencies throughout the LA area. One man, one idea and a legacy of compassion that continues to inspire.
Have you ever heard a speaker who left you thinking? Really thinking? Two weeks ago, I attended an event down at USC that left me deep in thought. The talk was given by a local priest who had worked with Mother Teresa years ago in Calcutta, when he was on a year’s sabbatical. The Monsignor spoke about being lost and shared his journey of self discovery during his time in India serving the poor.
He spoke about feeling, ” so alive and on fire” about his time there and the work he was doing with the poor, the sick and the dying. This feeling had him, at times, contemplating staying permanently in India. The priest shared this idea with Mother Teresa, who told him to, “Go home.” The priest in turn told each of us,” that we must all findour own Calcutta and that love is a decision.”
No matter how many post I write, the miracle of the human spirit always continues to inspire me and leave me in awe. The one I am about to share, is no exception. It is the story of an Orange County, CA teenager named Tim Vorenkamp who was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. A cancer so rare that is only strikes 1 to 3 out of every million. The boy as rare as his cancer, determined to make a difference with the hand he was dealt……which is exactly what he did.
Sadly, Tim lost his battle on January 10th, 2016 but his legacy lives on in the foundation he and his family began. As he said in the video, ” Battling cancer you never lose, and you will never lose. Even if one day the fight ends! Once something like this happens, you never lose, you just start a new journey.”
As fall kicks into gear and we all begin to settle into our new school year routines, one thing that I always look forward to is watching my boys participate in sports. There is nothing more fun that sitting with a group of parents who are all cheering their children on.
A few weeks ago, I sat down for lunch with an amazing woman and non-profit founder, named Clare Gurbach. Clare has two daughters that are college athletes and her youngest daughter seems to be following in the family footsteps. We talked about our children, sports and the moment that all of those came together to inspire Clare to help so many children keep playing sports.
Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to act and start your non-profit?
Clare: “In 2007, I was watching our oldest daughter play volleyball and seeing the disparity in resources between our team and one we were playing. The other team did not have nice uniforms. Some of the girls had masking tape on the back of their shirts for their numbers. Many did not have knee pads or proper shoes. Our team had everything and a professional coach as well. Winning that game 25-2 was not a good outcome for anyone.
We were called to action to “level the playing field” in providing uniforms, sports equipment and resources for under-resourced Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We named our non-profit The Saint Sebastian Sports Project after the patron saint of athletes.”
CM: What fuels you to keep doing this work?
“Seeing the huge impact we are having as we have grown. We know that sports help children in so many ways. Beyond the obvious physical benefits of playing sports, children also learn sportsmanship, commitment, and leadership and have fun at the same time. Our students must maintain a minimum GPA to play on their teams so they are incentivized to work hard in school.”
CM: When do you know you have made a difference?
“When we see the smiles on the faces of all the children we serve. When we visit the students at school and bring the schools’ funds and equipment to support their sports programs. When students attend our various tournaments, camps and college visit days at USC and LMU. Many of our students are now trying out for their high school teams that never would have had this opportunity in the past.”
Tell us what your impact been?
“During the 2009-2010 academic year, we were able to support seven sports programs. This academic school year we will assist 39 schools with grants and will serve at least 2,500 students this year.
There are 100 schools in Archdiocese of Los Angeles that need funding. We hope to find more foundation money and person donations to fuel additional growth in the future.”