Extra in the Ordinary

The difference between an ordinary story and an extraordinary story is the “extra”.

The story of Save the Earth Projects is more than ordinary. You see – the founder – Olivia was 7 years old when her home and school were destroyed in a massive FEMA disaster – a flood in Austell GA near Atlanta in 2009.

Olivia was in 2nd grade – but even at that tender age she saw humanity and the togetherness of community and of people willing to put their own priorities aside to help others in need. She saw people she will never see again donate their clothes, money, time, sweat and tears to help a community become restored.

When she entered 4th grade after being homeless and living in a hotel, then temporary FEMA housing in an apartment, and then at her grandparents – never to return to the home she knew – her heart was yearning to give and serve. She began by clearing scrub jay habitats and caring for the land. By 5th grade she felt even more moved to do something profound – and she created Save the Earth Projects – or S.T.E.P. for short.

The first project for S.T.E.P. has become a cornerstone project called Leave a GOOD Footprint, a gently used shoe collection.

300 million pair of shoes wind up in USA landfills annually and yet 300 million people don’t have access to adequate footwear.

While many of us have a change of shoes for every outfit, 100,000 kids die every year due to parasites and disease that enter cuts in their feet that could all be avoided with a pair of shoes.

Through Leave a GOOD Footprint – shoes are deployed globally putting reuse in front of recycle. Landfills are reduced, economies and businesses are built, people get shoes, and for every pound of shoes collected, Olivia’s partners donate .$50 or more to charities that she selects. She earns no money from this at all. She calls it a “for-giving” project.

She began the program to collect 100 pair of shoes to allow one child at a YMCA to afford to play soccer. In just one month she collected 1,500 pair and several kids had opportunities that once didn’t exist.

Since that time Olivia has been honored with dozens of local, regional, national, and global awards for her selfless giving, social responsibility, servant leadership, and humanitarianism.

She has collected shoes across the USA and U.K. which have been distributed to many countries worldwide. She has generated thousands of dollars for multiple charities and dispersed over 30,000 pair of shoes.

Every October we launch Leave a GOOD Footprint as it is the anniversary of S.T.E.P. and also a celebration of her birthday.

This October – funds generated from shoes collected will benefit other people who have been affected by the devastation of water from the various hurricanes in 2017 (Harvey, Irma, Maria).

Not only is providing relief from water disasters important to Olivia – but she and her family also experienced damage from both Hurricane Matthew and Irma. At age 15 she has personally witnessed the impacts of 3 Presidentially declared FEMA disasters. All caused by water.

She wants and needs your help. It’s simple. If you live in the USA and have shoes you no longer wear – put them in a box. As long as you can rally up 35 lbs of shoes or more (it’s not hard to do) – she will get credit for the donations and can also send you free shipping labels for the shoes. If you can collect 200 pair or more – she can send you collection boxes (and free shipping).

Her partners have agreed to give an additional $2/box specifically for the hurricane relief.

Be a part of this extra-ordinary story of kindness, love, and togetherness. Let someone else walk in your shoes. Follow the example of Olivia (my daughter) and live responsibly locally, raise awareness nationally, and give globally. Together we can make a BIG difference. One S.T.E.P. at a time!

For details – see the pinned post on the Fb page @savetheearthprojects

Please like the page and share with others – and be a part of changing the world together!

Income vs Output

Can you imagine if your boss said to you

Hey – when you come to work today, just do 10% of your best. Just bring me your 10%. If you do that, I will not only make sure good things come to you like rain falling from the sky. If you just give me your 10% effort I will make sure you have more than everything you need, nobody will bother you, you will be successful and make a comfortable living.”

OF COURSE that is ludicrous. When you go to work you should want to put in your best. YOUR BEST. Not just doing what is expected, but above what is expected. When you go through life, think on these questions. Do you say to yourself,

  • “How much do I have to do/give?” or rather,
  • “How much can I do/give?”

People that go above and beyond are rewarded. Not people who only give 10%…

Why does this matter and why should you care? I want to point out my daily verse to you today to see how little God asks of us – but how MUCH He gives to us.

Malachi 3:10…that’s where I am moved today. It talks about tithing. Tithe literally means “a tenth”. Tithing is typically your first 10% or what is sometimes called “first fruits”. Tithes in the bible days was used for different purposes.

Here is the full point.

THIS IS NOT about your income. It is about your output.

When you share generously of your time, talents, or treasures (finances), the blessings are not an ATM machine. You may not automatically get repaid with a pat on the back, someone helping you in return, or even more money…the gift is more about who you become in the process of being a cheerful giver.

This is not quid pro quo. Do not give just to get. Just Give. Giving is a reflection of the condition of our hearts. Life is too short to just take. The Bible teaches that God, who richly has supplied us with all good things, wants us “to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18).

Thank you Lord for Your generosity and grace, and that You do not only give us 10%. Thank you for revealing wisdom. Please continue to work on me to be not afraid to be more like You. Amen

Let me also say this.

It hurts me that there are people that parade around the label “Christian” but live opposite to Jesus Christ. Likewise it hurts me that these people hurt the hearts of people I care about who have turned their heads away from Christ…my life is full because He sees me despite myself and loves me still. He loves all of us. There is far too much division, hatred, evil, and hurt in this world. That is in opposition with Jesus’ teachings. Friends: He had nothing and gave everything. He commanded us to simply love God, and love each other and He loved us. Completely, fully, all of us. Not some of us.

Lest we forget that it was the religious leaders of His day that wanted Jesus killed – in a manner that was so vile, repulsive, evil, torturous and despicable you would never wish for that pain to be on even people you do not like or respect.

Indeed this passage I wrote about above from Malachi was actually written to the priests. History tells us that they were bringing in sick and lame animals for the sacrifices, sneaky managers not leaders, some insistent on looking for the bad in people, judging people but not themselves and even exploited people with money as well as widows and children. The point? God was talking to people who were already considered blessed. Was it all of them? Were all priests wicked? Of course not – but they made it harder for the good ones to rise. These were people in their communities that were revered (or feared), wanted to be set apart from and separate from the common folk, and had more than many others. But what was in their bank accounts didn’t matter – for their hearts were bankrupt.

My hope is that we all take the time to examine our hearts and motives and how we add value or take it away from people.Give your best. Why would you give anything less?

If you want to view paradise…

…take a look around and view it. Anything you want to do, do it. Want to change the world? There’s nothing to it…

Those lyrics conjure up some wonderful memories of the candy man, Willy Wonka.

Jerome Silberman was born of Russian immigrants in Milwaukee on June 11, 1933. Jerry adopted the name Gene Wilder: Gene for Eugene Gant, the protagonist of Thomas Wolfe’s “Look Homeward, Angel,” and Wilder for the playwright Thornton Wilder.

While successful in many films, yet perhaps most acclaimed for his role as Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder left this Earth recently at the age of 83. Although gone, he will most certainly not be forgotten – leaving indelible marks on the hearts and minds of generations of children.

As Mr. Wilder was nearing his time, he asked his family not to share his alzheimers diagnosis because he could not bear the thought of one less smile in the world. The role of Willy Wonka was seemingly a perfect fit.

Willy is a character from the 1965 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” which was adapted for film in 1971 (45 years ago!). He was eccentric, odd, and intriguing. Willy was all about show and not much about business.

Jerry aka Gene was also quoted in 2008 as saying:

I don’t like show business, I realized. I like show, but do not like the business.

In the film, Mr. Wonka expressed strange ways of conducting business, and left me thinking about a few good life lessons:

1. Maintain a sense of child-like imagination. The entire factory tour was a tour of imagination. Where else could you see a chocolate river, eat anything you could touch, experience fizzy-lifting drinks or ride in an elevator that went in every direction?  Expressing a child-like imagination helps us to be more creative, more imaginative, more innovative and open to worlds of possibilities.

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”  Socrates

2. Love what you do. Willy was in love with chocolate. As a young boy, he was not allowed to eat candy. His dad was a dentist and forbid candy. Willy eventually ran away from home and pursued his dream by opening what would become the most infamous and most successful chocolate factory. Imagine what it would be like to live the life you dream of!

When you love what you do, what you do matters!

3. Encourage innovative disruption. In otherwords, DO NOT hire oompa loompas! These characters were order takers. No vision. No innovation. No leadership. No individual thinkers. In business, product is not more important than the people and people lead the success of a good business. Invest in creativity.

Avoid somnambulism (change aversion)

4. Be ok with making mistakes. Sometimes the biggest mistakes make room for the best opportunities. Also, bad decisions make for good memories and stories!

Life is happening for you, not to you!

5. Leadership matters. Have a solid succession plan and exit strategy. Mr. Wonka held a contest where 5 lucky winners were invited to tour the factory and one would end up taking over. Although Charlie won the contest, Wonka did not have a good plan for his succession. Charlie was 10, inexperienced, and unqualified to take on the giant leadership role. Some benefits of a well-thought-out exit strategy include protecting the value of the business you have built over time including enhancing the future worth, it helps create a strategic direction, and offers a smooth transition to the person stepping into your role.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.    Antoine de Saint Exupery

6. Act with integrity. Always. Charlie’s integrity was challenged throughout the story by Mr. Slugworth. He promised to make Charlie rich if he turned over the everlasting gobstobber. In the end, Charlie not only did the right thing, he went the extra mile. You may be faced with temptations in life – integrity always wins.

Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. – C.S. Lewis

7. Perhaps the best thing that Gene Wilder did was create a lasting image. This movie is more than 45 years old. It is memorable. He is memorable. He had and will continue to have incredible staying power.

He lives who dies to win a lasting name.  Henry Drummond