Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Week 15 - The Naked Truth

We broke the 500,000 penny barrier!!!  We are at 520,000 pennies today (or $5,200.).  Thank you, thank you.  We are more than halfway there with 6 weeks to go.

Here is your inspiration for Week 15, my friends:

" I started writing these emails 2 years ago because I was scared to death.  I had just come back from a fundraising conference in Oakland where presenters mapped out exactly how I could raise more money for my organization.  It wasn't anything magical or earthshattering.  It was about risk taking, willpower and deterination.  It was about asking the people you know and love first.  It was about telling them why it was so important that you ask them.  It was about giving as many opportunities as possible to support that thing you love.  Then you waited to hear what they had to say.  Then you asked another group of people, told them why its was so important, gave them opportunities and waited.  Then you did it again and again and again. This scared me to death.  I was going to have to ask people for money.  What would they think of me?  They would think I was lazy.   Out begging like a homeless person  No one was going to want to give me money.  What if I said the wrong thing or asked for the wrong amount.  I would offend people.  What would my parents think of me?  I just kept coming up with excuses after excuses to to stay small. 

So, I thought to myself well, I have to find something that scares me more than raising money.  I figured that the only way that I was going to start raising money was if I made myself do something scared me more than asking for money.  I thought and I thouight.  I came up with two things that scared me more.  One was failing.  I hate to fail, but I hate never even trying more than I hate failing.  Two was telling people about my life.  My story is one that I have always been embarrassed about.   My family's divorce.  My dad who was never around, but who I love as if he had always been there.  My angry mom who I haven't spoken to in 5 years who is so consumed by resentment and who never felt loved by her own mom or her husband.  My being in a men's group after my dad passed away because the grief was too much.  My battle with depression. My insecurities, my prejudices, my failures.   I never wanted anyone to see the cracks.

So I figured that I would start writing an email a week showing people all the cracks.  I felt that if I could tell people all of these very personal things about myself and still get up the next day and go to work, then raising money was going to be a piece of cake, because I was doing something much harder.  I was finally, after 40 years, really letting my guard down.  I was confronting the things about myself that I thought made me unworthy of love and support. Maybe some folks would be offended after reading my email and look at me differently.  Maybe some folks would feel sorry for me, but maybe some folks would be inspired.  Maybe some folks would take the negatives, like I have, and use them as stepping stones.  See their failures and mistakes as opportunities to grow wiser and stronger each time.  Maybe someone would find comfort in my email after a very long day. Maybe someone would see their cracks in mine and feel human.

So I think its worked out so far,  I am raising money for Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, an organization that not only contribute to the lives of artists, youth and the greater community but that has allowed me to live out my dream of being a change agent in my own life and in the lives of so many others.  I owe Pyramid's Founder Helen Frederick a great deal of thanks.  I have come to realize that fear turned inside out is just opportunity.  The opportunity to grow a little wiser, to grow a little stronger and grow beyond the very limitations that we, and only we alone, set for ourselves."

I hope I inspired you.  I hope you will join my ever growing community of penny philanthropists who help support art classes and workshops, internships, studios for artists and events for people of all ages at Pyramid. It is an amazing group of individuals.  It's fun and easy:

If all this penny stuff is too complicated and you just want to make a contribution, you can donate in any form of currency to Pyramid Atlantic by clicking here. I will add up your donation in pennies and include it in my campaign.

Join me on Thursday, May 24 at 6:30 pm for a night of conversation with Former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta and author Shirley Sagawa. We'll drink wine, eat chocolate and talk about how ordinary people like you and me are making extraordinary contributions to their communities.  It's $20 and well worth it!!  RSVP to me so I save you a seat:

Bring your pennies and I will take them to my friends at Eagle Bank.

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