Volunteering With One Of Our Favorites

We love the Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry. It is one of the organizations that we serve with every year.  We love their mission. We love the cause. We love pets. We love the people. For the second year in a row, we volunteered at the annual Summer Pup-nic and Ice Cream Social.

The Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry’s mission is to keep pets at home with their families. They provide pet food at no cost to pet owners who are struggling to feed their pets. The inability to provide food leads individuals and families to surrender their beloved animals to local shelters. Over the course of time, shelters become overcrowded and many animals are euthanized. Not only does the FWPFP save the lives of animals, but they also reduce the stresses of not being able to provide for your pet while preserving the loving relationships that exist.

Last year’s Pup-nic was a huge success.  We managed the children’s area where we hosted games for the children.  This year, we participated in a different way.  First, we acted as greeters at the main entrance of the event.  We welcomed each person who attended and handed out goodie bags filled with dog toys and coupons.  It was a simple task. Anyone can smile and make others feel welcome.  That is really all it takes.  A warm greeting goes a long way with people.

Impact 52 volunteers at the Pupnic

We also set up a table and sold copies of our first children’s book LINNIE MAE’S NEW FRIENDS.  We donated 100% of the proceeds from each book sold during the event to the Pet Food Pantry. We didn’t set the world on fire so the donation was not a large sum of money. We do know, however, that it will buy a few bags of pet food and/or treats.

Volunteering is always an awesome experience. It is even better when you serve with an organization that values you, your family, and your time.  We have served with over 130 organizations since we began this journey.  The Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry is near the top of our list of favorites.

What is your favorite organization and what makes them great?


Put A Smile On The Face Of A Child

There are few things greater in this world than the smile of a child.  Whether it is your son, daughter, niece, neighbor, or the child of a complete stranger, the smiles of children are precious.  As a father, I look forward to seeing the smiles and hearing the laughter of my two beautiful girls each and every day. No day is complete without the sight of those pearly whites that give me such joy. I will do whatever (yes, I mean whatever) it takes to get that smile. I will be as silly as I need to be to get it. I will annoy them as long as it takes to make it happen. Some days it is hard work, other days it is very simple. Those smiles are important to me and nothing will change that.

For many children, showing that we care is enough to make them smile.  They crave our attention. They want our time.  They thirst for our love.  They just want someone to take interest. This week we had the opportunity to brighten the faces of many children in our community. Children who do not have it easy. Children who live in an area where violence is a reality. A neighborhood where it isn’t safe to go outside after dark. Children whose parents work hard to make it through each day in an attempt to survive.  Children who sacrifice the joys of childhood because they lack abundance.  This week we showed these children that we care.

For the last three years Elevate City Church has hosted a Back To School Bash at Weisser Park in the heart of our city. The event is an expression of love for those that may need it.  This year, more than 500 children were given backpacks filled with school supplies.  They ate hotdogs, popcorn, and popsicles. They jumped around inside inflatable bouncy houses and they had their faces painted.  They received free books and bookmarks.  They smiled, smiled, and smiled. For a few hours on sunny Saturday afternoon, the stresses and challenges of life seemed to vanish.  Yes, we helped them with much-needed school supply assistance, but that was not all. We gave them an opportunity to enjoy being kids. Children worry about the issues that mom and dad struggle with.  They do. And we need to understand that. They are very observant to the world around them and we must work to free them from that worry.

Impact 52 paints faces at the Back To School Bash

As for us, we volunteered in a multitude of capacities.  The girls painted faces. Erica helped with backpack registration and disbursement. I helped in whatever way needed.  Most of all, we invested time in the kids.  We high-fived them, held them, hugged them, and helped them. We even participated in a few sprint races with them (this old man was undefeated).  Mainly, we invested time in them.  We, along with the entire ECC Serve Team, showed them that they are loved.

The children of our communities around the world need to know that we care.  Our OWN children need to know this too.  This, I have to work on. You see, I am not a great parent. I make a lot of mistakes and miss so many opportunities. I get so focused on positively impacting the world around me that I forget to ensure that my own children are happy.  I am not perfect. Actually, I am no where close to it. My girls are teenagers who have their own challenges and I at times am not present.  That has to change. I must be a light in my own children’s world of darkness.  I must be present when they need me. They must be my priority. They must always know that I care.

I challenge you to do the same. Pause a moment and look around. If you have children, are you there for them? Are you present when you really need to be? I want to be a better parent and I hope that you do too.  Invest time in YOUR children.  Invest time in ALL children.  They need us more than we know.  Don’t fall victim to excuses and busy schedules. Focus on putting a smile on the face of a child this week!


Beautiful Hanging Rock

Eye-opening.  That is one of the phrases we use to explain our work in the community. If you follow this blog, heard us speak, or know us at all, you have heard use say these words over and over again. Our eyes have been opened to our own stereotypes, insecurities and shortcomings, the desperate needs of families in our area, the unbelievable organizations and individuals who work daily to rid our world of social injustices and heal the hurts of people, and how easy it is to make a difference in the lives of others.  The blinders have been removed. Our contact lenses have been cleaned.  We now see the world with 20/20 vision.  It is so crystal clear.  Serving our community has opened our eyes to so many new and exciting things.  This week, they were opened to something beautiful.

In our constant search for new experiences, we learned about an organization that exists to protect the last of our natural habitats in northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio, and southern Michigan called ACRES Land Trust.  For more than fifty years ACRES has worked to preserve wetlands, prairies, and forests in our area while educating the public on the importance of keeping these natural areas intact.  More than 5400 acres of land in 32 midwestern counties act as living museums that can be enjoyed by all.  We visited one this week that was absolutely beautiful.

We traveled to Wabash County to do some painting at a historic landmark site that had been vandalized with graffiti. We had no idea where we were going and what we were about to see.  We were ready to paint, but we were not prepared to be in awe of the space.  Then we arrived at Hanging Rock.

Impact 52 spends time at Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock National Natural Landmark is located along the banks of the Wabash River in Wabash County, Indiana.  The 3.9 acre site features an awesome natural exposure of fossilized coral reef dating back over 420 million years. The rock rises 65 feet above the river, which undercuts it giving it a “hanging” appearance.  It is an awesome sight and a quiet and serene location.  We had no idea that we had a place like this close by.  We had never heard of Hanging Rock and if it weren’t for volunteerism and service, we would have totally missed out on this national landmark.

Erica and I spent about three hours painting over graffiti.  It was sad to arrive and see the vulgar words that had been spray painted on the rock.  In addition to curse words, we saw a lot of “Mary luvs Charlie 4ever” and “Bobby was here” type of tags.  We are happy that people are in love (and that they were there), but we do not understand the need to vandalize property to share it.  Using “Hanging Rock” gray paint, we made those words disappear.  It was obvious that ACRES has to do this often because we could plainly see where they had painted on previous occasions.  It really is discouraging to know that people have such a lack of respect for a public space, a historic landmark, and a rock that holds special meaning to the local Miami indians.  We were happy to restore its beauty (at least for a while) and enjoy the views from the top of the rock after we finished.

Impact 52 paints over graffiti at Hanging Rock

I had an unbelievable day with my beautiful wife at Hanging Rock.  The girls were out of town so she and I volunteered alone.  I cherish those moments.  There is no better way to spend a day with your spouse than by serving others. Volunteerism and service brings you close with the people you love.  It acts as an adhesive that bonds you together.  You talk. You smile. You laugh. You appreciate.  I appreciate my wife’s giving spirit so much.  So inspires me to be a better man daily.  I would encourage everyone to seek out opportunities to serve with the people you love.  I guarantee that your relationships will improve.  Your bonds will strengthen.  Your love will grow.

When you commit to serving others and giving back to your community, your eyes will be opened to the beauty that exists around you.

Beautiful Hanging Rock via Impact 52


Dear Little Brother

Dear Little Brother,

I am not sure exactly where to start.  There are so many things that I want to say.  As you prepare to move and we say our goodbyes, I first want you to know that it is not goodbye.  Although you will be hundreds of miles away, you need to know that I will always be there for you.  When life is good.  When your day is bad. When you are in trouble. When you need a friend.  It doesn’t matter where life takes you, I will always be there with you.

The last 5 plus years have been awesome.  I remember meeting you for the first time in our initial Big Brother Big Sister match up.  You were 8 years old and full of energy.  I was so excited to meet you, yet concerned that you wouldn’t like me.  We spent those first few months as lunch buddies meeting every Monday at school.  We ate, we read books, we laughed, and we played games.  I kicked your butt many times in Connect Four and I believe that I am still the world champion.  I enjoyed each and every encounter that we had.  You impacted me in a big way during those first few months and I wanted to spend more time with you.

We moved our match to the community program and you started coming to my home every week.  You became a part of my family.  We had so many good times.  We played hours and hours of video games (especially Call of Duty) where you constantly killed me and made me look silly.  We watched a lot movies that made us laugh and giggle uncontrollably.  We visited many car dealerships in town where we looked at hotrods and fancy cars.  We danced and rapped as the hip-hop duo A-Fresh and Double O Ty’ere.  We raced go-karts, played sports, did homework, played with our dogs, and ate a lot of food.  So many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.  It is hard to believe that it has come to an end.

Impact 52 and Big Brothers Big Sisters

Aaron and Ty

I am very proud of the young man you are becoming.  You have grown, matured, and learned many lessons over the years.  There are few things I want to say to you today that I hope that you will never forget.

Don’t stop learning.  Remember that you do not have all of the answers.  Listen to others, focus in school, and get the great education that you deserve.  The Lamborghini that you always wanted to see could be yours some day if you work hard.  You are a smart kid with a bright future, but it will not be easy.  Nobody is going to hand it to you.  You will have to earn it.

Be a leader.  Don’t follow others and become friends who will be a bad influence.  Be independent and strong and do not let others take advantage of you.  This is one of the things I have worried about over the years.  You want to fit in.  You want to be cool.  But at what cost?  Do not settle and do not let your peers control you.

Love your family and those around you, Little Brother.  You only have one mama.  Love her.  Obey her.  Help her.  You are old enough to do your part around the house.  Be the man of the house and step up your game.  Do not expect your mother to do everything for you.  Respect her always.  You are now closer to your sisters.  Love them and treat them like they deserved to be treated.  Treat them like your mama.

Lastly, always remember that you are special.  You are unique and there is only one you.  Find your passion and pursue it.  Live life with purpose everyday and never let anyone tell you that you are nothing.  It isn’t true and you cannot fill your mind and your heart with that nonsense.

It doesn’t matter how old you get Little Brother, I will always love you.  You will always be part of my life, my family, and my heart.  I look forward to the phone calls, the Skype sessions, and that day that you and I get to hang out again.  I look forward to your high school graduation, college, your wedding, and the day that you become a parent.  The future is bright and I am ready to experience it with you.  I love ya Little Brother!

Your friend and Big Brother,

Aaron

 

Aaron and Ty 2

 

I encourage you to consider becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister. Visit Big Brothers Big Sisters to learn more about becoming a mentor.  Investing time in a child just may change their life.  I guarantee that it will change yours!


Up, Up, Up and Away

There is something magical about a hot air balloon.  Since I was a child, I have been mesmerized by the sight of them gliding through the air.  The beautiful colors of the large-shaped object against a backdrop of blue sky and white clouds is spectacular. I am not sure why I get so much joy in seeing them in flight.  I have never ridden in a balloon so I have not experienced it firsthand.  For some reason I have a love for them and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it until now.

Last year we volunteered at the Angola Balloons Aloft festival in northern Indiana. It was our first up-close experience with a hot air balloon.  We worked with the team from Indy Hot Air and their dragon-shaped balloon named Oggy.  We shared that experience in a blog titled “Wrestling a 900 Pound Dragon”.  We had an awesome time and couldn’t wait to do it again.  This week, we had that opportunity.

We signed up to work the early morning shift.  Early meant getting two teenage girls out of bed at 4:30am on a Saturday.  That, my friends, isn’t an easy task.  This is where my girls amaze me.  They got up, didn’t really complain, and were in good spirits as we made the 45 minute drive to the event location.  It makes Erica and I proud that they understand the importance of what we do.  Most weeks they really enjoy it, even if they will not admit it.

Upon arrival we were assigned to a shape balloon named Joey.  He is a bee and just one member of a group of balloons that fly together called the “Little Bees”.  Our job was to assist the flight team as Joey’s chase team and crew.  We helped prep for flight by unfolding the balloon, preparing the basket with the burners, and holding him down as he started to inflate.  I was on the crown of the balloon during inflation.  Thankfully, Joey was easier to wrestle than Oggy from last year due to perfect weather.  I wasn’t dragged around like a rag doll this time.  We stood below the balloon as it lifted off of the ground ascending into the sky.  It was an awesome sight.

Impact 52 works with Joey

Impact 52 volunteers with hot air balloon

As chase team we jumped into our car and followed Joey as he flew through the air.  Watching his every move we navigated down country roads to stay on his tail (or stinger). You never know when a balloon will land so we had to be ready.  He eventually landed in a small field in a residential area.  We trekked through backyards and weeds to the balloon where we deflated him, packed him up, and prepared him for his afternoon flight.

We had a great morning at the Angola Balloons Aloft event for the second straight year.  As we traveled home, I realized that a hot air balloon is great symbolism for our project and the idea of “positively impacting the lives of others.”  Let me tell you why.  Stay with me as I try to get this out of my brain.

It takes a team of people to fly a hot air balloon.  The pilot cannot do it alone.  He needs a crew to support him.  A crew that is willing to do the hard work to unfold the 600 pound balloon and get it ready for flight. People need friends, family, and community (or a crew) in order to navigate life.  We need that crew to help us with the heavy things in life.  We cannot do life alone. We need a crew that can help us get ready to take flight.

A balloon uses hot air as it engine.  The balloon fills to its capacity and lifts off of the ground.  The burners are used to continue the flow of air that keeps it in the sky on its flight track.  As people, we can fill people with encouragement that allows them to grow and empowers them to reach for the sky.  Our continual support and encouragement, like the burners, can keep someone uplifted and on the right path in life.

Impact 52 volunteers as balloon chase team

The chase team and crew constantly communicate with the pilot to help him navigate the landscape.  They support decisions that make sense and challenge those that do not.  They follow the balloon while it is in flight just in case that something goes wrong.  They are there when, and if, they are needed.  Do I really need to explain this one?  We need people who are there to support us and challenge us through life.  We need those people who will tell us when we are in the wrong, when we have messed up, and when we are being foolish.  We need that “chase team” that will be right behind us helping to navigate the terrain. We need them close by when we fall.  And we will fall, over and over again.

When the balloon lands, the pilot needs the crew to tear down.  The pilot needs and wants to talk about the flight.  He shares the good, the bad, and the ugly of the journey.  The crew is critical in getting the balloon put away properly in preparation for the next flight.  There will always be a next flight.  People need us when they land.  They want to talk through their experiences.  They need someone to share their successes with.  They need someone who will hear their hurts.  We are there to help them process their “flight” and prepare them for the next one.  There will always be a next one.

I hope that someone can relate to what I am saying.  People need us to love, support, and encourage them so that they can thrive.  When they fail, they need us to listen, show that we care, and prepare them for the next thing.  I enjoy making a difference in the lives of people and I love volunteering and serving others.  I encourage you to be kind, to help, to love, to encourage, to support, to listen, and to care.  Be the “crew” that the people around you need.  By doing so, you can help them go up, up, up and away!

Impact 52 volunteers as hot air balloon chase team


Reaching Out Behind Bars: Take Two

In February of 2103, I wrote a letter to a prison inmate named Dennis. It was an introduction and a note of encouragement for a man who was six years into a life sentence for drug trafficking, gun possession and murder. The letter was short and to the point.  I dropped it in the mail not knowing what would happen.  What would the response be? Days and weeks went by, no response.  Months passed and still nothing.  It has now been 16 months since that letter was sent and I still wonder if it was received, read, processed, and/or appreciated.  Is Dennis’ life being transformed in prison? I will never know.

That letter forced me to step outside of my comfort zone. It was something completely new for me at the time. I had never had a desire to talk to, empathize with, or help someone who was convicted of a crime. I will admit that I have lived most of my life with a “lock them up and throw away the key” attitude. Criminals were criminals regardless of the crime. I wanted them to be put away and suffer all consequences.  That day in February of last year I realized that my attitude was very short-sided and unfair.  People make mistakes.  We must offer grace.  Change can take place and second chance should be granted. I am not perfect. I have made many mistakes in life (too many to be counted).  I have been given second, third, and fourth chances.  I have been forgiven.  I have been helped.  My goal is to pay that forward.  I want to live my life that way. I want to help, and impact, anyone that I can.

This week, I wrote another letter to a prison inmate. His name is Andrew.  He is serving time for drug trafficking, battery, and gun possession in a California prison.  Just like the last one, I introduced myself and shared a short bio. I shared scripture and offered a few words of encouragement.  Now I wait to see if I get a response.  It could take months for that letter to reach his hands and that is okay. I have all of the time in the world.

letter to a prisoner

Our mission to positively impact the lives of other human beings has taken us down many paths. Week after week we volunteer with nonprofits, support special causes, and search for opportunities to help. We have learned to open our eyes and see the opportunities that exist each and every day to make a difference. We know that simple gestures have unlimited potential to change and improve lives.  Can writing a simple letter in an effort to communicate with a felon make a difference?  I believe that it can. I encourage you to look at yourself in the mirror and challenge your beliefs, your attitudes, and your actions.  Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone in an effort to positively impact the lives of other people?  Are you willing to put yourself on a piece a paper and share it with a complete stranger?  If you are, DO IT!  Visit WriteAPrisoner.com or meet-an-inmate.com and reach out to someone behind bars.

 


The Gift Of Sight

It is estimated that more than 153 million people around the world have uncorrected vision impairments. Most of these impairments can be quickly diagnosed and easily treated with corrective lenses. Unfortunately, they never get corrected.  People lack the resources to obtain the proper eyewear to fix things like nearsightedness and astigmatism. The lack of glasses pushes millions of people deeper into poverty. They cannot learn because reading is difficult.  They struggle at work because they cannot see clearly. They battle headaches and other health issues that diminish their quality of life.  One pair of glasses can be powerful for one person.  One pair of glasses.

Clear vision means a better education for children.  Clear vision means greater employment opportunities and career success for adults.  Clear vision means more independence for seniors.  Clear vision improves the quality of life for all.  You can provide clear vision for those who cannot afford it and it is extremely easy.

I have been wearing eyeglasses since I was young.  I have gone through many (many, many) pairs of glasses over the years.  Thick frames and lightweight frames.  Round lenses and square lenses.  Black ones, gray ones, and brown ones.  The list goes on and on.  With each new eye exam (or cracked frame) came a new pair of glasses.  The old ones were quickly discarded into the trash and forgotten forever. I had no idea that those old glasses could make the difference in the lives of another person. Today, my eyes have been opened.

Lions Clubs International has been changing the world through eyeglasses for many years. Lions clubs collect millions of eyeglasses each year to address the need for glasses. It costs Lions less than $0.08 to provide a pair of recycled eyeglasses to change someone’s life.  Glasses are collected through boxes that are located throughout communities across the country.

Glasses

This week we donated 8 pairs of glasses in one of our local collection boxes. We will never know if these glasses will reach those in need.  We have no idea if our prescription lenses can be used by another person.  We do know, however, that the alternative to donating our glasses was dropping them in the garbage.  In the trash there is a 0% chance of helping another person.  We do not like those odds.  By making a donation, we hope that we have been able to someone the gift of sight.

If you wear glasses, consider donating your old pair.  You just might change someone’s life.

 

 


Promoting The Arts, Building Community

We get asked all of the time about our volunteer activity and organizations selection process.  Our answer is always pretty simple.  First, we keep our ears and eyes open to the need around us.  When a need is announced, recognized, or discovered we try to jump on it to help out.  We have also created a target list of organizations that we want to work with.  Those on the list intrigue us, their mission excites us, and we want to serve and learn more.  That list, once extremely long, continues to shrink with every passing week.  This week, we checked another one of those organizations off of the list.  It is fun.  It is interesting.  And after volunteering, we learned that it is awesome.

Impact 52 spends time with Wunderkammer Company

Wunderkammer Company is a nonprofit that seeks to revitalize communities through contemporary art.  An old, iconic Fort Wayne building has been transformed into a contemporary art center that is transforming the art landscape of our city.  Abstract sculptures, outside-the-box exhibitions, musical performances, historic panel discussions, and special events can be found inside the four walls, in the courtyard, and on the exterior bricks of Wunderkammer at any given time.  It is a place that gives artists, who may never find a home for their work, their craft, or their talents, a place to thrive.  When you visit, it doesn’t take long to fall in love with the organization, its mission, and the people.

We spent time on a sunny Saturday morning working outside in the courtyard.  It is going through a transformation.  New plants are going in and old ones (and weeds) are coming out.  A new vegetable garden is going in that will promote self-sustainability and urban farming.  Rocks, roots, and stumps are being removed.  There are visions of a new deck that can host bands and performances under the stars on a cool summer evening.  The courtyard will be amazing.  In order for the courtyard to become the treasure it is meant to be, work has to be done.  We dug up and transplanted plants.  We removed weeds and unwanted rocks.  We chopped up old tree roots and cleared the way for new dirt.  The girls planted and watered seedlings that will be the future of the outdoor space.  It was physical labor, but easy work. The sun felt great and so did the organization’s appreciation.

Impact 52 works in the courtyard at Wunderkammer

 

Impact 52 and Wunderkammer

Wunderkammer was founded by a man named Dan Swartz.  Those who are active in the community know Dan because he truly loves our city.  He is a huge advocate for Fort Wayne and he works really hard to improve our community.  He is a visionary with big plans for Wunderkammer Company and big plans for Fort Wayne.  We need more people in our communities around the country like Dan.  He has a genuine love for people.  He wants to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  He takes action to close gaps that exist in our society.  He is conduit of positive energy, encouragement, and laughter.  If you know Dan, I think that you would agree (and you could add a lot more).  He made our volunteer experience enjoyable.  He wore his appreciation on his sleeve. He expressed it through his actions and his words.  We worked, we laughed, and we worked.  Dan was a model example of volunteer engagement.

You need to check out Wunderkammer Company.  Attend a performance.  Walk through an exhibit.  Host a party.  Just get there.  Get involved and find ways to support the mission.  Share the vision with others.  By doing so you will be promoting the arts in our community.  You will also help build a better community in the process.


Operation: Military Kids

There are approximately two million military kids in the United States.  These are children who have at least one parent active in the military.  They face many of the same challenges and stresses as their parents: frequent relocations, deployment, and reintegration.  Thankfully there are organizations that focus on these children.  We had the opportunity to volunteer with one of those organizations this week that serves military kids right here in Indiana.

Operation Military Kids is the U.S. Army’s collaborative effort with individual communities across our country to support children and youth impacted by deployment. Regardless of whether it is a first time deployment, the second or third time or just another in a long series of deployments, Operation Military Kids’ goal is to connect military children and youth with local resources in order to achieve a sense of community support and enhance their well-being.  The program delivers educational, social, and recreation programs for military youth living in civilian communities. It also supports military kids coping with the stress of knowing their deployed parents may be in harm’s way. The program educates schools, families, and the general public on the impact of the deployment cycle on soldiers, families, kids, and the community as a whole. Each state in the United States has an OMK representative who works with other state partners to deliver programming, support and opportunities for the military kids in their respective states.

Impact 52 volunteers with Operation Military Kids

One of the tools used by OMK is Hero Packs. Hero Packs are backpacks filled by the community that contain games, toys, and resources that can be used to pass the time during a deployment. They serve as a tangible expression of support for military families from their communities.  We had the opportunity to help fill Hero Packs for children right here in Indiana.  We, along with about 30 other volunteers, created a large assembly line and filled the backpacks.  Books, stuffed animals, pens and pencils, bracelets, jump ropes, beach balls, games, puzzles, and other items were placed into the bags.  In addition, a parent packet with information about local and statewide involvement and engagement opportunities and resources was included.  All of the backpacks were boxed up and will be sent to military kids throughout our state.  It was quick, easy, and painless, yet rewarding.  There are thousands of children right now in our state that have a parent deployed. This was our way of saying “thank you” to all of those kids for the sacrifice they, and their parents, are making for our country.

Impact 52 fills backpacks for military youth

Due to the great response from our community this volunteer activity only took about thirty minutes.  The OMK Indiana director said that he normally has to recruit friends and his students to help because he doesn’t get enough volunteers.  Not on this occasion.  More than thirty people showed up to help out on a Friday night.  It was awesome to see so many people sacrifice a little bit of time for those who give the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Men and women put their lives on the line for us each and every day.  Freedom is not free and we have all military personnel, past and present, to thank.  They not only risk their lives for us, but they also sacrifice time with the families, their children.  I often feel like I should do more to honor and thank our service men and women.  It was nice to do that this week in a very small way.

What are you doing to honor and thank our military and their kids?


A Tweet And A Trolley

Week 156 was upon us.  The last week of service for year 3 of this project was planned.  Saturday was going to be an awesome and busy day for our family.  In addition to volunteering with the Downtown Improvement District on the Spring Trolley tour, the girls had events happening all over the city.  The schedule was full and the day was set.  And then I saw the tweet.

MSS Tweet

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Indiana needed volunteers for the upcoming Walk MS in Fort Wayne.  My brother tagged us in the tweet hoping that we could retweet it and share it with our network.  He knew that we already had plans for the day, but he wanted to see if we could spread the word.  When I saw the tweet, I was concerned.  It was Thursday morning and they still needed volunteers for the walk that was happening on Saturday.  I felt like we needed to do something.  Yes, we could have retweeted it and shared it with our followers.  However, there was no guarantee that anyone would respond and the organization would be no better off.  We needed to do more to ensure that their needs were met.  I responded to the tweet asking for more information.  Over the next few hours a large number of tweets went back and forth as I worked to see what we could do.  After learning that the biggest need was first thing in the morning, we made the decision to change our schedule and squeeze it into our day.  Saturday just became busier and week 156 was going to be outstanding.  We were ending year 3 with a bang!

We arrived at Headwater’s park early on Saturday morning for our shift with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.  The Indiana Chapter of NMSS works to improve the quality of life for people affected by Multiple Sclerosis in Indiana and northwestern Kentucky and raise funds for critical MS research.  So what is MS? Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.  It is a disease that affects approximately 400,000 in the United States.  Walk MS connects people living with multiple sclerosis and those who care about them. The funds raised at this event give hope to everyone impacted by MS.

Impact 52 volunteered at Walk MS

We helped set up the coffee and snack station, put tablecloths on tables, and worked at the registration table.  We welcomed teams and individuals to the event, collected money, and handed out t-shirts.  It was busy and it was obvious that we were needed.  There weren’t enough people to cover registration so MSS staff and board members had to help out.  We are so glad that we were able to make it work.  We had a great time.  It was awesome to learn more about the MS Society and the work that they do.  The staff was wonderful.  We felt very appreciated while we were with them.  I want to thank my brother for sending that tweet.  It gave us the opportunity to serve with an incredible organization with incredible people.  I would encourage you to learn more about the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Indiana and get involved.   Let’s ensure that next year’s Walk MS has plenty of volunteers to make the event stress free and successful.

Impact 52 at Walk MS

After a quick run to Starbucks for coffee and lemon pound cake (MaKenna’s favorite), we headed to the offices of the Downtown Improvement District.  The DID partners with the city of Fort Wayne and a wide-variety of nonprofit, public, and private sector organizations to make downtown Fort Wayne a more attractive place to live, work, shop, and do business. It’s mission is to create a strong, economically vibrant core of Northeast Indiana through beautification efforts, special events, and business development. It was time for the Spring Trolley tour and we were ready to be trolley docents.

The Spring Trolley tour gave individuals the opportunity to park their cars and ride the trolley between multiple downtown locations for fun, food, and a great day supporting local businesses.  It also connected many events that were happening in the downtown area.  Our role as trolley docents was to welcome people on to the trolley and announce the happenings at each of the nine stops the trolley made around the city.  “Next stop, Parkview Field, home of Fort Wayne Tincaps.  You can shop the gift shop today for your favorite Johnny Tincap merchandise.”  You get the picture.  It was like being the conductor on the Polar Express.  “Next stop, the North Pole!”  We also had the opportunity to talk with patrons about the fifty new sculptural bike racks that were placed around the city.  It was a great afternoon in beautiful downtown Fort Wayne.

Impact 52 serves as trolley docents

The Downtown Improvement District is amazing.  We love the people.  We love their work.  We love their events.  If you live in the Fort Wayne area, you have probably attended one of their events. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?  Go.  Enjoy downtown.  It is growing and thriving.  Maybe you can volunteer too.  It is an easy way to get involved in making our city a better place to live!

We had an unbelievable day serving with these two awesome organizations.  The day was busy and tiresome, but looking back on it, we would not change it for anything.  It was a great way to end our third year of service.  It would have been easy to make excuses and say that “we were too busy” to take on the second volunteer activity.  We refuse to use that excuse.  We hope that you will too!

 

 


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