A pause in my usual snarky, sarcastic, self-absorbed bullshit for tonight.
Read the news or watch election coverage and you might think the end of he world was coming. Well, it’s not all gloom and doom out there folks. There are plenty people doing some very cool things to make the world a better place, and I know some of them. And tonight, I’m going to call them out. My way of making a little difference given that I , don’t do shit.
Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is a non-denominational pursuit.
First up, one my oldest friends in the word, in terms of time known folks, well, and these days in age too.. .
Jeff Roster is one guy who has been making big waves in the last 15 years in the retail space with his expertise, he is one guy I’ve been quite proud to know. I’ve been so impressed with his professional achievements and he works his ass off to get them. But bigger than that, Jeff has been involved in a effort started by the late Paul Singer, former CIO at Target to create an organization to improve the lives of orphans around the world.
Paul became a huge advocate for the plight of orphans and adoption. An adoptee parent himself, he used his influence and planning skills to create an organization to change the outcomes for 1000’s of children around the world.
Paul passed away a few years ago but the organization lives on and is really doing some great things around the world to help vulnerable kids develop the skills needed to be successful in todays world.
Jeff didn’t start the organization, and it is certainly bigger than he is but no organization has been blessed with a more enthusiastic supporter and fan than Jeff. Jeff has used his skills and influence as a Gartner VP to promote the cause and in a wonderful display demonstrating the walk, he recently took his own kids down to the one of the poorest nations in the Western Hemisphere, Honduras, to help out on a project to install a computer lab for at risk kids. Retailers and technology folks donated the equipment and the time to set it up and are truly making a difference.
Makes me proud to know him.
Next up, our friends the Woods. I know a lot families but I can’t say that I know any that truly live their values like our friends Sue and Jim Wood who, with their 4 boys are simply an amazing family. To know them is know such a privilege, spend a few minutes in their home and you find a family that’s committed to each other, that cares about their community and works hard to provide their boys, all of whom are men now, with all the love and support kids needs. Scouts, Church.. you name it. And it comes as no surprised that the Woods have become involved in improving the lives of others.
I’m not sure exactly how they got connected with Peru, another of the hemisphere’s economic disasters, but they did and when they found vulnerable people with great need they took it as a calling. Sue has sisters who are hearing impaired and is fluent in American Sign. I’m guessing that this had some small motivation in her recent work.
Here’s the story. I had Sue over for dinner recently and she told me an amazing story about work she and her family have been doing in Peru with the deaf.
Peru, like so many other poor countries, has no safely net. Like orphans the outcomes for disabled people there is poor, perhaps a life of begging, if they’re lucky a low paying menial job somewhere to keep them out of the way. Life expectancy is low, prospects are nil. Sue told me how she was shocked on a trip down there, a mission trip through her chuch, to learn that even the Churches in Peru marginalize the Deaf.
Well along the way she befriended a pastor who is Deaf, who lived an hour out of town with his family in a house built of cardboard . No water, no sewer no nothing. But the man continued in his calling and made due with what he had.
Sue worked with a local Church in Minnesota and with a Church in Peru to make a difference in lives of the deaf. She and her husband co-founded an organization-
A Faith Based organization WBI is dedicated to improving the life of disadvantaged in by providing for their spiritual, vocational, and emotional needs.
This thing is just getting off the ground but already they’ve moved the Pastor into a real house in town, they educated the local Church on about the deaf people in their community and changed attitudes to the point where on her last visit a deaf children’s choir preformed during a service, something unthinkable only a few years ago.
They did that, Sue and the team. And there is so much more to do. They’re working on raising money to support a full time staff in Peru and a support person in Minnesota, a team that will significantly exponentially amplify their ability to help people. If you can help, send them a couple shekels as we say. If your interested and have $5.00 or $10.00 to spare drop me a note and I’ll make the connection.
And last but not least-
I’ve talked about my friend La Juana Whitmore here before. She founded the website BlackTwinCities.com years ago as a place to connect local African-Americans with businesses and services in the community, now has an EZine as well. La Juana has a been a huge fan this blog over the years, delivering a needed kick in the ass to yours truly when I find myself slacking.
La Juana, is one of those folks who goes a million miles an hour and does nothing halfway. With a relatively small African-American population in town La Juana wanted to make an even bigger impact on the economic development of community than her blog has been doing and to do this the she came up an idea to launch a Buy Black Day in the Twin Cities. A day for the community to support Black owned businesses in town. She single-handedly launched the idea, rounded up sponsors, created a business list, and sponsored a breakfast at a local restaurant.
She was nervous about how it would go, who might show up, if anyone would show up… Last Saturday the Sunnyside Cafe in North Minneapolis, the place was packed. La Juana has started something, really started something. I fully expect to hear a lot about BTC in the future as she continues to develop her ideas, or as she says it:
Black Twin Cities strives to inform in a way that encourages dollars to be recycled throughout our community, thus strengthening the financial stability of the growing African-American population in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.
So there you go, three folks changing the world for good a little bit at a time. I couldn’t be prouder of these friends.