Fri, August 05 2011

A different kind of post: a story, an ask and an offer for you

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fun stuff •

This post is going to be a little different.  I’ve never overtly done this on the blog, but I’m going to do it today: I’d like to ask you to give a donation to my favorite cause.  And I’ll explain why.  Please read on - it will make you smile.

Here in the Washington, DC, area, there is an amazing little organization called A Wider Circle.  It’s probably a bit like yours: changing lives, all on a shoestring.  It was started by a man named Mark Bergel.  He, like you, he came to his work because he had a calling.  He, like you, is passionate about making things better.  He, like you, leaves me in awe every single day for the great work accomplished with so very little. 

You all rock.

I met Mark a few years ago when he started fundraising through my organization, Network for Good.  We had lunch since he works near my office, and he told me his story.  Mark used to teach healthier living at universities and for corporations.  He did workshops on things like stress management.  Sometimes he volunteered his time and training for service projects, and he visited families that needed his support.  It was an eye opener.  In apartment after apartment here in Washington, Mark saw parents raising children in homes with next to nothing—no beds, no dressers, and no living room or dining room furniture at all. These were people living on the edge.  One night he drove home and wondered, “How on earth can you manage your stress if your children are sleeping on the floor?”  He decided giving counsel was not enough.  Parents and children needed a place to sleep and sit, too.  And more support than a visit.

He quit his job, turned his living room into an office, and founded A Wider Circle.  He wanted no person to lack a bed and no family to go without their inner needs fully supported.

Mark had zero seed money.  But he got some donated furniture and found a few volunteers, and he started giving families basic furniture and training in getting on their feet.  Somehow, in his first year, he managed to furnish the homes of 774 children and adults and gave 33 educational workshops at local shelters.  Today, every year, A Wider Circle furnishes the homes of more than 13,000 children and adults and provides educational programs to thousands of men, women and children.

Mark has been known to say that “as one of us goes, so go all of us.”  Over lunch, he confided that he wanted to know exactly how the people he served felt, so he didn’t own a bed of his own.  He said sleeping on the floor helped him remember what it’s like to lack basic needs.

I was very moved.  And of course I promptly became a donor to A Wider Circle and volunteered to help with fundraising.  (My first piece of advice: Mark, put your amazing story on your website!  He did.) 

I get a special chance to do this today.  I helped A Wider Circle set up this fundraising page.  For every $33 gift, they can help a person with all the basics: a bed, a chair, a table.  That adorable girl?  Lei-Lani was in A Wider Circle with her mom just the other day, picking out a bed and she even got a toy, too.

If this inspires you, I welcome you to support them here.  And I would like to thank you by helping you, if you need help.  If you donate to A Wider Circle today or over the weekend, I’ll donate my time to review your latest appeal (or home page or video or other single/one-page product) and provide three ways to make it stronger.  I want to help you connect with supporters the way Mark connected with me.  Because I know you are just as amazing as he is.

If you’d like to do this, donate here.  Then I just need to know you want help with your appeal.  Add a comment on this blog post (or reply to me via email if you get this blog in your Inbox).  I need your email address and the message, “I answered your appeal, now check out my appeal!” - or something to that effect.  I’ll provide instructions on where to post your appeal and will be happy to weigh in.  We’re all part of our own wider circle of people committed to good, so let’s support each other.

Thanks, Mark, for what you do.  And thanks, readers, for all you do. 

Have a great weekend!

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