Monday, September 04, 2006

What It's all about

I have an emotional connection to almost every project that starts on our site but occasionally, one comes along that really hits me over the head. On Thursday night, I was surfing our site and saw a project proposal started by a 16-year old young man named Bret in a small town in Colorado. The first thing that struck me was that this was the youngest (that I know of) person who has started a project at GiveMeaning.

When I read what he was trying to start, I was deeply moved. A friend of his named Michael has been living with cancer for a few years now and has recently been placed on the Terminal ill list.

Bret wants to do a fundraiser in this town to honor Michael and show how much the community cares and is connected to one another. The only problem when he setup the page was that he entered the wrong email address, so I had no easy way of getting in touch with him.

The next day, I called the High School where Bret's father is the local high school football coach and left a message for him. I didn't know whether Mitch (Bret's dad) would return my call but sure enough, about an hour later I was speaking to Mitch on the phone. He told me more about Michael and about the Ewing's Sarcoma that Michael was diagnosed as having in November 2003. About a half-hour after speaking with Mitch, Bret called me from school.

He pointed me to Michael's website and there I got my first impression of Michael. On his site, there is an entry he wrote in January 2004 that moved me to tears and completely humbled me.

A lot of people have asked me what drives me and what the secret is to being able to hire and keep the people we've hired. The answer is right here. That this passionate, caring and proactive 16 year-old guy in a small town in Colorado found our site and started a page for Michael; That we get to hear about and feel somehow connected to heros like Michael; That we then get to read the messages of encouragement from Michael's friends and family. This is what drives us. This is what keeps us motivated. This is what we live for.

This is how we measure our success. Not by unique visitors, not by reach, or dollars raised. But by the number of times we're inspired and moved by our members.

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