Category Archives: Daring To Dream

A Noble Purpose

A recent article in Bloomberg.com about practical wisdom and wise leadership caught my eye.  CEO’s that have the capacity to broaden their perspectives while aligning their organizations with a noble purpose bring value to society at large.  I’ve written about some of these organizations before:  TOMS Shoes, The Century House and other companies doing good in the world as part of their corporate charge.

But the article got me to thinking about whether you have to be a CEO of an organization to have a noble purpose.  Can’t each of us go beyond our egos and personal gain to be genuine and work towards the common good?  I’m reminded of all the people I know who do this every day, day-in and day-out.  It’s a values-based lifestyle.

It’s not just about passion or hard work but the ability to connect what you do with the rest of the world and make a difference.  I think about people who are sometimes called angels or unsung heroes and think that they know the real definition of a noble purpose.  People like Reba Chonofsky, who at the age of 60 took on the coordination of a pilot program to improve the lives of hundreds of adults with physical disabilities.  She worked for twenty years making a difference in the lives of her clients.  More about Reba in a later post so check back often.

Each of us (and YES I mean each of us) has a gift, maybe deep inside and just waiting to be set free, to connect who we are, what we do and believe in with others for A Noble Purpose.  Have you thought about what your purpose is?   I’d love to hear from you.

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Keeping the Music in the Music Hall

When a series of problems arise, it’s rarely cataclysmic unless these event happen on top of each other or all at the same time and all dramatically impact the budget for your 10th season in business.  That’s what happened to C-R Productions, a 501 (c)(3), at the Cohoes Music Hall.  Jim Charles and Tony Rivera (C-R) found themselves in a budget shortfall of $75,000.00 as their 10th season was about to start.

That’s big bucks and Guys and Dolls was already in rehearsal.  So what happened?  Although I can’t say I know all the details, I do know Jim told the sold-out audience last night that several things happened:  from low sales for the final show of Season 9,  lower than normal subscribers for Season 10 and the decision from two of their $10,000.00 sponsors to reduce their sponsorship by 90% (opted to spread their funding for the arts to a more groups and organizations), and finally a slow response to the Annual Appeal - coming in quick succession, all contributed to this financial burden.

Now if you aren’t all that familiar with live, professional theater it may come as a surprise to learn that the actors,  dancers, set designers, stage crew and musicians are all paid a wage.  Many are members of Actors’ Equity, many come from afar to audition for the roles and those lucky enough to land a part in a show also have to be housed (and fed).

As a sometimes volunteer in the CMH office, I’ve also seen the other expenses most of us wouldn’t think of as part of the incredible productions on the stage at the Music Hall.  How about paper products for the bathrooms,  cleaning,  the copier and copy paper for each production, and a myriad of other things. Luckily for Jim and Tony there’s a wonderful group of volunteers who come together to help with many of these things but there are all kinds of expenses to keep a theater going

From day one when Jim and Tony made the Cohoes Music Hall their home, community outreach has been their mission.  From C-R Kids, the resident youth acting company offering a total theater experience; to the Creative Youth Alliance, cultivating artistic growth in young people in the community; C-R Center Stars, a unique program with the Center for Disability Services, enriching the lives of people with disabilities through the performing arts; to C-R Generations, another unique outreach to children, older adults and people with disabilities utilizing the arts.  Although I love and support all these programs, I have to say that the one that lifts my spirits most and proves all things are possible, it’s C-R Center Stars.

So when Jim and Tony needed help, it’s not surprising that they did what they do best:  they reached out for the community.  Many have stepped forward, including the children, the alumni from C-R Kids, parents and families, the regional community, those from afar, from performers, directors and the arts community as a whole.

Their deadline to raise the $75,000.00 looms on August 15th but the good news is that they are over $59,000.00 as of this afternoon.  And if you think the summer has been hard for Jim and Tony, it’s also been one of the most joy.  They became Dads in May as they adopted beautiful little Maya, now four months old.

Can we keep the music at the Cohoes Music Hall?  I think so.  The shows that bring so much pleasure to thousands of people must go on.  And so must the programs that spread a love of the arts and live, musical theater to children of all ages.

Just a note: as you know, I do not advocate for donations for any organization or group I write about and in full transparency I will tell you that Jim Charles is my husband’s cousin.  That said, donate if you choose, or just send a word or two of support.

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107 Candles Strong

Today, February 23rd, is the birthday of one of the world’s most far-reaching and powerful organizations.  From more than 33,000 clubs, from two hundred geographical areas and countries in five continents, the 1.3 million members wish Rotary International a Happy Birthday.

Making a difference in the world for 107 years, Rotary’s 1985 promise to the children of the world to eradicate polio is the most significant and noteworthy mission in its history.  And we are ‘this close’ to achieving the goal.  With over $1 billion donated thus far by Rotarians and Rotary Clubs and with only three countries left endemic we must continue our vigilance to make sure that polio-free countries remain so and that those endemic continue their work to finally wipe out this disease.

To celebrate the birthday today many prominent buildings around the world will be illuminated with Rotary’s pledge to END POLIO NOW!

Take a look at the You Tube video and Thank Rotary for all it’s done in 107 years.

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A Song In My Heart For India

In the media where only strife and conflict seem to get any attention, I reach out to tell you the stories of real people and organizations doing the most incredible job of making the world a better place.

Today, I reach out, once again, to my friends and colleagues in the Rotary World as we celebrate an historic moment in the global struggle to eradicate polio as India passed one year without a single case of polio.  For someone who remembers the fear here in the United States back in the ’50′ before Salk and Sabin, there is a song in my heart and I’m filled with joy that the children and parents in this populous country can think of life after polio.

This milestone is the work of millions health workers, community leaders, politician and government leaders and Rotarians, UNICEF, WHO and CDC staff who lead National Immunization Days to distribute vaccine, closely monitor in villages and towns, and the parents who tirelessly work to be sure ALL the children receive oral vaccine.  But we can’t let down our guard.  Pakistan and Afghanistan are still endemic and India is susceptible for reinfection unless we support their efforts to vaccinate every child.  Anywhere there is still polio, it’s a threat to us all.

If you would like to send the people of India a message of thanks and congratulations click here.  Anyone can send a message.

Stand tall, India!  This is a game changer in polio eradication.  If you can do it, we can 

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Jhoole’s Women Weavers

Last June when I first wrote about Jhoole, the eco-conscious fashion organization, founded by the social entrepreneur, Hannah Warren, I was fascinated by the concept of building an organization beneficial to women living below the poverty line in India.  The idea that the power of social enterprise could do battle with injustice, alleviate poverty and pay good living wages was really a noble purpose.

As I’ve followed Hannah and Jhoole these last months it’s been incredible to see where social enterprise and those people with the purpose of sustainability and ethical behavior leads:  a charity partnership with the NGO, Chetanya Sewa , and community partners MATA TRADERS, Womanspace, Rock Valley College and India’s leading fiber-to-garment manufacturer, Pratibha Syntex, grants from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International are but some of the wonderful things that are happening at Jhoole.

And it’s important to keep in mind that this non-profit puts 80% of the profits back into Jhoole so they can grow and provide employment for more women and 20% of the operating profit is donated to social initiatives in the community through their partnership with Chetyanya Sewa.

Plans for one of their largest ventures, a production and training center in Madhya Pradesh, designed pro bono by Mike Olson, are underway with the goal of building next year.  This facility will provide training and work for almost 500 women as well as school for their children.

Hannah’s original reason for traveling to Madhya Predesh was to photograph the women weavers.  When she got there she was so overcome by the beauty of the fabrics and poverty she saw her photographs became a photo journal.  Click here to view.

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