September 22, 2009

Resurrecting Change 101

Shouldn’t bloggers blog every once in a while?

It has been ages, dear readers. I could apologize for that, but instead I will share with you why I am not blogging so very often, or really at all, these days.

I guess it all started with this blog. I had this idea to collect information that would help inspire people to initiate change. It just so happened that it worked extremely well, for me at least.

Back in February I was asked to join the board of a startup nonprofit based on an idea a good friend of mine had come up with. He came across a need in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq near the end of last year and decided to do something about it. By bringing together a group of key friends back in the U.S., he was able to establish Extended Family International (EFI).

The group provides no-interest home loans to families in need of adequate shelter. While our work is beginning in Iraq, we dream of expanding the nonprofit across the borders of this particular country that is in such great need of compassion and a helping hand. You can learn more about our first partner family, the Mahmouds, by clicking here.

It was a complete no-brainer for me to agree to join this amazing effort as their director of events. In fact, I think I leapt out of my chair and had to dance around – I was so filled with joy to be given an opportunity to be part of such a good thing.

The entire experience quite simply has filled me with electricity. I have been living with a happiness I have never known before. I still remember feeling my blood pumping through my veins as I sat around a kitchen table one night near the end of winter with four other board members during our first meeting as we officially became board members of EFI and adopted our bylaws. Our founder, Bruce, was on speaker phone. It was 3 a.m. over in Iraq, where Bruce was sitting in a room lit by candlelight because his house was without power. The irony was beautiful and powerful. And the excitement of this journey we were about to embark upon was more real than anything I’d ever felt before.

As the months have flown by, one by one the pieces of our puzzle have fallen into place. EFI became registered as a nonprofit in Pennsylvania back in January. We received our 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the IRS in August.

And in September we celebrated the launch of our organization with the inaugural Music for Malawa benefit concert in Harrisburg, Pa. It was a great success as more than 100 people came out to support our cause at the Abbey Bar at the Appalachian Brewing Co. Sept. 5 – on a holiday weekend! Three amazingly talented local bands came out and provided entertainment for the evening, for FREE. We raised nearly $1,500 at the door – right in line with our goal. Simply incredible.

I had the great pleasure and honor of being in charge of organizing this event. I can’t properly describe the joy it brought me to be able to bring together so many good people to create an evening filled with so much love, support and the celebration of the ability to give and do good. It was one of the best nights of my life and I couldn't have done it without the incredible people I have in my life who helped me along the way. It is a humbling experience to find your calling – to discover what you are most passionate about – and to watch what can happen if you just simply try. Even more so, to understand that none of it had anything at all to do with you – and to know that that fact is the absolute best part of all.

And this, my friends, is why I have been so absent from Change 101. It seems that I have inspired myself to do more than just write about all of the things that need to be done in the world. I’ve decided to try my hand at helping out a little bit, albeit I have the help of a ton of awesome people I feel blessed to be surrounded by. EFI will continue to take up most of my spare time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ll try to update you every now and then, but really, what are you waiting for? There is plenty of work to be done. Won’t you join us?


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