Friday, September 26, 2008

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at a cool event in NYC called the Community Leadership Awards. This award ceremony was hosted by the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation, a non-profit that harnesses the volunteer efforts of members of the financial industry.

What amazed me about this group of financial planners is that each had their own initiative that personally reflects their passion, and each project was the result of seeing a problem that they wanted to help. The diversity and sustainability of these projects is really inspiring. To me, this is what life is all about… taking what you love to do and applying your skills and passion to helping others.

I would like to highlight a few of really great people that were honored at this event:

Elizabeth Vertarano helped to create a crisis hotline and emergency shelter in Lawrence County, PA for victims of domestic abuse. Since 1981, the shelter has provided women with housing, emotional counseling, and legal and medical advice.

Richard England, Jr has volunteered for the past 15 years with the Latin American Youth Center, a Washington DC organization that services over 4000 low-income families. With the help of friends and colleagues, Richard created a $5 million fund to ensure the organization’s financial stability.

Marc Turner uses his passion for basketball to help inner city kids get off the street. For the past 16 years, Marc has served as a part-time coach at the Church Farm School in Paoli, PA. In 2005, Marc mobilized 50 kids to support relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Frank Martin has volunteered for the past ten years mentoring underprivileged kids. In 2001, Frank created DreamsWork Inc, an organization that offers one-on-one tutoring and college scholarships to promising students.

I also had a fantastic conversation with Rance Crain, the President of Crain Publications, about my vision for TOMS, and I think he became a believer. We joked about the fact that I was featured in Advertising Age’s top 30 under 30 several years back when I was running Reality Central Cable Network. Rance also invited me to speak at his IDEA Conference later this month which I am really excited about.

Bill Bisson, the group publisher and editorial director of Investment News was very supportive as well, and several people told me later in the night that Bill was talking about coming to work for TOMS. While he was obviously kidding, hopefully he will join us on a shoe drop sometime soon.

At the end of this event, participants were given an opportunity to help sponsor a volunteer on a future Shoe Drop. I would like to thank everyone that contributed… we are EXTREMELY excited to find out how much money was raised! Fingers crossed ☺

Last but not least, I would like to thank everyone at Invest in Others that that helped make this event possible. Thank you Kandis for your very kind words! Allison and Stephanie: You guys planned an INCREDIBLE evening. I would be honored to take part in future events!

Rance Crain (President and Editorial Director, Crain
Communications Inc), Me, Jim Pavia (Editor, InvestmentNews), Suzanne
Siracuse (Publisher, InvestmentNews), Kandis Bates, (President, Invest
in Others Charitable Foundation)

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