Making An Impact

I just had a random memory. When I was about 10 years old, my friend’s mom gave us permission to walk their German Shepard – this huge dog that was probably bigger than both of us at the time. As we were walking down the block, the friend accidentally let the leash slip out of her hands and the dog started running down the street.  Somehow, my 10-year-old reflexes were much quicker than I realized, and I grabbed the end of the leash just before the dog really took off.  We caught up with him and calmed him down. As my friend took hold of the leash again, gripping it tightly, she thanked me for not letting her dog run away because her family would be devastated if they lost him forever.

As I slipped out of that daydream, I wondered why I just had that random memory. I traced my thoughts back and realized I had just been thinking about Robin and how I got her the job at Domino Magagzine that would eventually fuel her passion for Interior Design and her subsequent but short lived career as a designer.  Then my thoughts went to a sort of dark place, but I regained clarity and decided I can only hope that the impact I had on Robin’s life was a positive one.  I hope.

I never really realized why I eventually got so involved in philanthropy or where this passion came from – but I think I just figured it out.  That memory of my neighbor’s dog sticks out so vividly because it was the first time in my life I can remember thinking, wow, I just had a really strong impact on this person’s life – good thing I was there!  And it felt wonderful. Having an impact on someone’s life, big or small, can be very powerful.  About two weeks ago, a conversation with a friend led to a series of events that I can only hope will turn into something amazing.  It’s only partially philanthropic, but it’s sort of big, and while I sit back and realize how the smallest acts really can have such an incredible impact, I can’t help but be amazed.

I hope if you’re reading this, that you’re doing what you can to make a positive impact in some way – however you define it.

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Disconnecting

As much as I love keeping up with all that’s being said on the Internet and staying connected to my friends and colleagues on social networks (hell, I’ve made a career out of doing so), one of the things I love most about travel is the opportunity to unplug and get away from all that. Even when I rent an international cell phone and check my email while abroad, it’s far less frequent. It makes the long awaited trip truly feel like a vacation.

Lucky for me, “tuning out” has been a much discussed trend for 2012. People who have experienced social media overload are now finding more and more ways to tune out in their everyday life, not just when escaping to a foreign country. I wrote about this on the DeVries blog earlier this month:

http://www.devriespr.com/2012/01/devries-forecasts-2012-trends/

Unfortunately, the trip to Mexico didn’t pan out (I knew there was a chance it wouldn’t), but I’m making every effort to plan my next international adventure – and looking forward to the next opportunity to put my phone on airplane mode for ten days and truly disconnect.

 

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Dancing for Peace

Sometimes I love my job. Today is one of those days. I recently had the opportunity to take on a pro-bono client, a New York based organization called Dancing Classrooms, which teaches middle school aged children how to ballroom dance. (Was also the inspiration for the movie “Take the Lead” with Antonio Banderas)

It wasn’t until our third or fourth call that I learned about this amazing project that Dancing Classrooms founder and renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine had created. Dulaine was born in Jaffa, Israel, to an Irish father and Palestinian mother. He took his Dancing Classrooms program over to his birthplace in the middle east, fulfilling his lifelong dream of teaching dance to Palestinian-Israeli and Jewish-Israeli children – together. His program forces the young people to meet each other face to face and work together to coordinate the steps involved in partner dancing. Dulaine had a documentary crew follow four children as they embarked on this program in Israel – you’ll be able to see it soon…but I can’t give away too many details yet.

These children, despite their cultural, religious and political differences, are now being introduced to each other in a way that enables them to work together at a young age. They actually make friends with one another through dance, movement, and cooperation.

Think dancing can save the world?

Me too.

Dreaming of…Kenya

Dreaming of...Kenya

A little while back, I read about this Elephant Orphanage in Kenya, and because of my absolute love for elephants and incessant desire to visit Africa, this destination moved to the very top of my list. Then, Matt got an email from his friend who is currently living in Somalia doing microfinance. The friend had visited the elephant orphanage this past weekend, and sent a picture of the elephant he adopted, Dabassa. I love him. And I want one just like him.