Creating the Future – Buckle Up!

Menachem & Alison

As we head into the New Year, I was intending to take this space to share our plans for 2010 with you all. And then fate intervened, in the form of one of our Immersion Course graduates, Menachem Kniespeck. (I will indeed share those plans – you will see them here next week.)

For those who don’t know Menachem, he is the driving force behind Operation Kid Equip. OKE is an incredible organization that provides free school supply kits to students from low-income families.  While we often think of “poverty” and “Detroit” in the same breath, the areas served by OKE – Oakland County and other areas in southeastern Michigan – are not traditionally known for high poverty numbers. Yet 60,000 of their school kids are on free or reduced lunch.  Those are the students Operation Kid Equip is dedicated to helping.

In 2008, Operation Kid Equip provided backpacks and school supplies to just under 500 students. After reading and embracing The Pollyanna Principles, in 2009 they helped approximately 14,000 kids.

That’s a 2700% increase! Menachem credits that increase almost entirely to The Pollyanna Principles.

In addition to founding and operating Operation Kid Equip, Menachem is also the Chief Financial Officer for Kids Kicking Cancer. From his depth of experience, he has started a consulting practice – VisionSpun Consulting – which was actually birthed during our November Consultants Immersion Course!

As we spoke prior to that course, Menachem told me, “If I could transform an entire organization with just one of your articles, and we grew from 500 to 14,000 kids served by OKE from just reading your book, imagine what I will be able to accomplish after taking the course!”  (In part the answer is that in 2010 OKE is slated to provide school supplies to 30,000 students – and who knows what else Menachem will accomplish in that time!)

Ok – all that is background for the treat Menachem shared with me this afternoon – the treat that made me scrap my plans for today’s blog post, and instead share what he passed along.  And that is this delightful photo he mocked up as our New Years Gift!

So buckle up, one and all! We have a heck of a year in store for social entrepreneurs and funders, for executive directors and board members, for consultants and leaders of management support organizations, for college professors and for anyone else who wants to move beyond just “doing their work” – folks who want that work to catalyze community change.

Buckle up indeed. We can’t wait to see where this highway leads!

Many many thanks to all who joined us this amazing past year. We are honored and humbled to link arms with you on this journey. And thanks to Menachem (pictured above with consultant and social change agent Alison Rapping) for sharing his energy and passion through this wonderful gift.

2 Responses to Creating the Future – Buckle Up!

  1. Geesh. I’m truly at a loss for words…and if you know me, it a hard thing to accomplish! =) I honestly was not expecting this.

    While I appreciate Hildy’s words, I do want to speak about THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLES and how it transformed our organization.

    Prior to being introduced to Hildy, we had an awesome idea to address an overlooked, underserved need in our community. What was it? Inadequate school supplies.

    At inception, we decided we would distribute school supplies to children who were living in low-income, poor or homeless households. While it is an admirable undertaking, it runs the risk of becoming a repetitive good deed with no real sense of future or change. Looking back, our original premise does seem too routine for a group of [future] visionaries.

    A little over a year ago we started reading some very cool, unique ideas by some woman on Twitter from Arizona (who would be later named, “Hildy”). As we read and digested the information, we found ourselves looking at what we were doing and why we wanted to do it. We started experiencing our calling in a different way. We then re-examined our mission, introduced a vision and started tweaking our thinking, programming and being.

    In a short time, we sought to take on all of the tangible items a school-aged child would need to succeed in school and in life; school supplies, reading books and dictionaries. At the same time, we moved away from the thinking and actions that were not congruent with our own mission and vision of a community that is educated, vibrant and caring.

    We now had a different way of experiencing our community and all of the possibilities that exist for tis future. We listened. We cared. We planned. We examined. We laughed and cried. And most importantly, we were impassioned.

    As a result, we went from ‘serving’ about 500 kids to ‘EMPOWERING’ 14,000 children in a short time. We made the calls and sent the e-mails we were too afraid to make before. As a result, we acquired over $600,000 in brand new reading books and received over $100,000 in classroom supplies from just two extremely large relief organizations we would have never approached. We presented ourselves on behalf of a community of people, rather than some new mom-and-pop nonprofit. [There’s more awesome milestones listed within our annual report card. Feel free to e-mail me if you want to see all that THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLES made possible.]

    When opportunities and challenges presented themselves, as they always do, we compared them against our own vision, mission and values…as opposed to carelessly moving on to the next person in line for a backpack.

    We, too, were becoming empowered as we worked to create a powerful future.

    In conclusion, I truly believe Hildy, and especially THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLES, helped Operation: Kid Equip become a local leader for the future of our children. The thing I tell everyone is that if you have any doubts yourself, just look at what the hundreds and hundreds of individuals and community benefit organizations are able to achieve with THE POLLYANNA PRINCIPLES.

    Thank you again, Hildy!