Thursday, January 31, 2008

Almost My Birthday

So here we are, 1 minute away from my birthday and I just wanted to take a moment to say what a great year it has been for me. It hasn't been perfect, there are a lot of major struggles, but each year has been better than the one before it and for that, I am so grateful. I appreciate everyone who helps make my life so happy- family, friends, people who support Project Smile, I couldn't do it without you.

What does this have to do with inside running a non profit? Everything. It may be the same for everyone who starts their own business, but I can only speak for myself when I say how deeply personal Project Smile is. It is personal not simply because I started it, but because it is such a part of who I am. I truly love my work, although there are many frustrations, a ton of anxiety and constant rejection- but at the very bottom, there is such love. I have achieved more in the last few years than I had ever thought of, and I know there is still much more to be done. Project Smile has brought me my greatest joys and a happiness that I had never thought possible.

So tomorrow (or today actually) as I enjoy my birthday, I'll also celebrate another year of Project Smile and the wonderful personal happiness that my work brings to me. Again, thank you to those who have helped make it possible.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chugging Along

I'm tired! I'm still not completely over my cold and have that majorly sluggish feeling. Anyways, so today was a pretty good day. The WPI volunteers did a great job! 5 students were there from 10:30-12:30 and they sorted a ton of stuffed animals and helped pack away all our Halloween items. Of course, our Halloween event was a while ago, but after the event everyone was so exhausted that we all just tossed all the decorations and other items in our room, without actually packing away anything properly. So at least everything is boxed and packed and ready to go for this year's event!

Good news to report on the date auction plans- a very trendy night club is on board and they are donating the space. We're just working out the final details, but it wil be in September. So exciting! I feel relieved, there is a lot of anxiety in the planning process and this is one major issue resolved.

Worked on contacting more nursing homes today for our Operation Elder Care program- didn't get to speak to anyone, but left messages. Also, continued working on obtaining auction items for our 5th Anniversary Celebration. The pageant director for Miss Massachusetts wrote back to me today, saying that Miss Mass will be able to attend, which is great. She was awesome last year.

So I think that's about it for tonight. Now going to work on writing my list for tomorrow. Until next time..

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Catching Up

Hello! I'm still trying to catch up on everything that didn't get done last week. That's the difficult thing with a very small office- when you're out sick, there is no one there to get things done.

Today, we did a donation to a nursing home in Medway. The activities director had me come in at lunchtime, so I could actually disribute some of the stuffed animals to the residents. It is great to be able to distribute the stuffed animals directly and they were so well received. It was still pretty sad though to see the frail state of many of the residents. A few of them actually waved goodbye when I left, which was really nice.

No resolution yet in regards to the date auction- still looking to come up with a workable arrangement with a venue.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Worcester in the morning. We have WPI student volunteers who are helping sort stuffed animals at our storage space at Paul Davis Restoration. They'll be there for two hours. It is great to have the help. The only downside is that I have to be up there with them and I have so much that needs to get done here at the office.
Anyways, until next time.

Back at Work

Hello! So finally back to regular work today. It was one of those so-so days today- some things went really well, others not so good. On the good side, I sent our brochure updates over to our graphic designer- doing so pretty significant changes in order to keep it current (an outdated brochure is pretty annoying). We now have a liquor sponsor who looks like they'll be on board for our Anniversary Celebration on October 5- it is a rum company. Finally got a photo slide show up on our blog, with the help of a friend- it was quite fun looking at all our photos. I never realized I had so many.

So what was the not so good part? Well, the usual frustrations of trying to get in touch with people for gift certificate donations and getting the run around. The bigger problem right now is our date auction, it is scheduled for September in Boston and right now we're working on getting the details established with potential venues, figuring out the expenses with the dating service that wants to partner with us for the event and some other issues. There is a lot of anxiety involved, and at times today, I wasn't even sure if I was heading in the right direction at all- definitely not a good feeling!

Now I have to go and write my list for tomorrow. Until next time...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Week Without Blogging

No blogging for a week! I can't believe it has been that long. I was sick- still am. A slightly pathetic excuse for not blogging, but concentrating while having a miserable cold is something that I'm not so good at. Sad to say that not much work has been done this week. Partly because my voice sounded like a frog- and when calling up and trying to get donations, sounding like a frog is not a particularly desirable quality to have. And partly because trying to think coherently was not so easy.

However, I am starting to feel better- have parted ways with my constant companion, the tissue box (for a few minutes at least). I shall now start my list of things to do tomorrow- a list which is quite extensive. As part of my New Years resolution, I purchased a pretty notebook which was to become my daily "list book". I did write lists of work tasks before, but only sporadically- usually relying on a mental list. However, my list book officially started on January 8 and with the exception of these last few days, I have written my list every night before bed. It is a fantastic help and a great way to stay focused during the day.

Anyways, I feel the need to reconnect with the tissue box... so I am off. Until tomorrow...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Project Smile History Wrap Up

So to wrap up Project Smile history- 2006 came to an end on a high note with the Celtics award and our continued fundraising growth. We had done our usual 1,000 calendars and only had about 60 left unsold- that was our best sales to date. 2007 rolled in and we kept chugging. We had expanded to offer small toys and reading books along with the stuffed animals and coloring books/crayons. We were making progress and that was the most important thing. 2007 was an exciting year particularly in terms of the growth of events. When we had done our anniversary celebration at the office in 2006, someone had told me that someday I'd be holding our celebration at a hotel. I had laughed when he said it, thinking it would be years away. By May, I had decided that it would be this year- that there was no point in waiting. So, we booked the Sheraton Hotel in Milford (they donated the space) and went to work finding sponsors to cover the cost of the event. It was pretty scary actually, because I had no idea if I'd get enough sponsors or how I would get enough people to actually show up at the event- so it wouldn't be just me, my mom and four friends! I won't bore you with all the details (there will be a ton of details coming up as I work on this year's event!), but with help from a number of awesome people, the event was a success- we raised $5,000 and had a great turnout. I was happy and relieved!

Last year, we also did our first ever date auction. We auctioned off dates with single police officers, fire fighters and other Boston single guys and ladies. We held it at Gypsy Bar in Boston (a great location with a terrific staff) and we got the New England Patriots cheerleaders to attend as well. They were fantastic- so professional, friendly and a great addition to the event. The event was a success, almost 300 people attende! Work is currently underway on this year's event which will be even better.

There are so many other things that have happened- many good things, a few lousy things, but I need tons more space than this blog to share it all. But hopefully this gives a pretty good idea of where Project Smile came from. Now, it is all about where the heck we are going!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Today's Donation

So I'm taking a break from the history of Project Smile to talk about a donation that we did today. It is has been on my mind all day. A few months ago, I decided that we should expand our service to provide elderly residents of nursing homes with gifts of stuffed animals. While it is a departure from our work to help children, it is still fitting with our goal of helping the most vulnerable of our society. So this month, after we got some grant money to support our program, we officially launched Operation Elder Care.

Today, I delivered a donation of 71 stuffed animals to a nursing home in Hopedale. I came home this afternoon and cried- not because the donation didn't go well- it went great, but from the sheer sadness of seeing people so frail and in such a condition where they barely know anything that happens around them. I couldn't help but think how the old ladies were once my age and how fast life goes by and how dreadfully sad it is to lose your freedom and health and everything that made you active in the world. In one sense, they are lucky in that they did get to lead long lives. Perhaps the greatest tragedy is those who die too soon, who are gone long before they could be considered old, leaving only unfinished dreams and shattered loved ones. But still, my heart went out today to the elderly I met and I wish I could have done more. Our stuffed animals were well received, the ladies did brighten as they held their gifts, some even played with them. The staff were happy to distribute them. As I watched one lady holding onto her stuffed animal with a smile on her face, a staff member told me what an unusual scene that was. Evidently, the lady usually was bad tempered and would throw things.

Even with the positive response, I felt almost guilty as I walked to my car. Here I was young and energetic, driving away with almost all the freedom in the world and there they were, near the end of their lives, behind the locked doors of a nursing home- in poor health and most with limited understanding of the world around them. I know it is the cycle of a life, but that didn't take away the sadness. It did remind me of how quickly the years will go by and how it matters to make the most of every moment, because it will never come back.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Celtics Night

So there I was- foils in my hair, sitting under the dryer, contemplating all that needed to be done when I got back to the office, when my cell rings and it's mom. Not unusual, since we talk all the time. this time she has some pretty amazing news. The Boston Celtics called she said, and they have selected you for their Hero Among Us award and they want you to come to tomorrow's game. I remember looking towards the window and out at the blue sky- I think I let out a cry, because people started looking my way. Just like with out $10,000 donation the year before, I couldn't believe it was actually true. I called the Celtics rep back immediately and yes, it was true. I had been chosen for my work with Project Smile and was invited to tomorrow's night game for a presentation on Centre Court during a break in the game. My family was invited too. Now I wasn't much of a Celtics fan before that, but I knew what Centre Court at the Boston Celtics meant- it was one of the most hallowed grounds in sports history and somehow, someway, my little 26 year old self would be standing there tomorrow night.

Tomorrow night came- my mom, my two sisters and brother all came. We went first to the Celtics office where a PR rep welcomed us, gave me the official Celtics folder with the recognition letter in it and explained the evening. She walked us over to the Garden, through the immense backstage area and down to Centre Court. The Celtics and their opponent of the night- the Utah Jazz (my former favorite team) were warming up. I had never been inside the Banknorth Garden before, so every minute of this experience was brand new. I got to watch the players practice and then I was ushered to the middle of centre court of an official photo with Celtics captain Paul Pierce, Andrei Kirilenko of the Jazz and a rep from the Mass State Lottery, a sponsor of the award. Matt, the PR director, brought us to our seats and told me he'd come back to get me before the second time out of the second quarter. I watched the game, excited and nervous. I still couldn't believe it was happening, that in a few minutes I would be standing on that court in front of a sold out crowd.

Then it happened. Matt came to get me and escorted me down to the edge of the court, he gave me the glass trophy to hold, showed me the best way to hold it and then with a gentle push on my back, sent me out to the middle of centre court. The announcer came on the speaker and suddenly I heard about Project Smile. I don't remember all the details- but I remember how bright everything was and suddenly it seemed that the world slowed down and I thought of all the struggles that there had been and all the worry that I go through and I looked around as the arena broke out into amazing applause and for that one fantastic shining moment, everything was perfect. I was standing on a floor where dreams had been realized, where legends had been made and for those brief minutes, I stood there too. Listening and seeing people cheer for my work- I felt like anything was possible, that no dream couldn't be achieved. And I felt happy; wonderfully, gloriously happy.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My New Metro West Young Professionals Group!

The Early Days- 2006 and Our Anniversary Celebration

2005 ended on a major high note and 2006 rolled in. We expanded to provide items for fire fighters to give to children and, based on feedback from participating departments, we expanded to offer coloring books and crayons for police and fire fighters to have on hand for children. I did as much public speaking as possible, usually at Rotary Clubs and I fundraised non stop. The grants came in, mostly small amounts, but it was enough to keep moving forward. It wasn't easy, but by the spring and summer of 2006, we had a rhythmn.

I went to work on our 2007 calendar, this time including fire fighters with their children. I worked on getting raffle prizes, this time without the panic from last year's debacle with the Patriots tickets. We started planning a small Anniversary Celebration at the office in October. The idea of an Anniversary Celebration at first seemed pretty funny- had we actually been around that long already? But the goal was to have a fundraising event that could turn into our annual signature event. We had a small silent auction, lots of food and drink, debuted the 2007calendar and invited everyone who was in the calendar and everyone I knew and my mom knew, to attend. I also invited John Fernandes, who at the time had just won a rather heated campaign for the democratic nomination for state Representative, unseating the incumbent. I called him, unsure if he would even show up. He showed up, along with 50 other people. Our profit was small, but it was a great event. Personally, I couldn't believe that so many people would show up to support my work.

The fall rolled along, no dramas, no disasters, just slow progress. Then early November came and I went to get my hair colored (I saw my first strand of white hair on my 17th birthday!). I sat under the dryer, waiting patiently, when my cell phone rang. It was my mom and she had news....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Early Day- A Lifesaver Donation

So continuing on... we were hanging on financially by a thread. Anxiety was high- I can't tell you how much time I spent sitting in my office chair, staring our the window, almost numb with worry because I couldn't see how I was going to keep going.

Anyways, December came. It was cold and I was sick. Lying in bed, sneezing and blowing my nose until I felt like it would fall off- I was not a happy camper. I heard the phone ringing in the office, but couldn't be bothered getting out of my warm bed to get it. A few hours later, as I trudged from my bedroom to the kitchen in search of food, I decided I might as well check the message. I couldn't believe what I was hearing- it was a lady from the Massachusetts Bankers Association telling me that Project Smile had been selected for a $10,000 donation from the Mass. Bankers Charitable Foundation.

The moment felt unreal. So unreal, I didn't even cry out of excitement. I played the message twice to make sure the woman was calling to actually speak with Project Smile. I picked up the phone and called her back, still not believing it was real. She picked up her phone and yes, it was real. Not a joke, not a mistake, it was $10,000 and it was for Project Smile. We chose a date for the check presentation, they would come to the office (my one room) and deliver the check personally. I hung up the phone and I still couldn't believe it. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. A giant cloud had been lifted and all of a sudden there was light in our future. But still, being the worrier I was, I didn't want to fully believe it until the check was in hand. I kept thinking that something would happen, that I would get a call saying it was a mistake. I couldn't quite believe that such a giant hand had come to help us up.

The marketing director of the Milford National Bank had nominated us for the grant a few months earlier after our donation to the children affected by Katrina. She had mentioned it to me then, I had forgotten all about it, not really thinking that anything would come of it. Her nomination is something that I will be eternally grateful for.

My worries were for nothing. It wasn't a mistake. The check presentation ceremony was held- it was the first time we actually had visitors in our office. It wasn't until I had deposited the check and got back in my car and looked at the deposit slip, that I cried. I remember staring at it and thinking how I never thought this moment would come. I never thought that I could get people to believe in what I was doing enough to donate money that would allow us to keep going. But now, in a huge way, it had happened. The incredible pressure was lifted, not completely, but lifted enough that I knew we could be OK. Up until this moment, every day had been a fight for survival and although it is still difficult and we are constantly fighting to continue, it is never as bad as it was that first year and a half.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Project Smile Early Days- Our First Calendar, Katrina relief effort

So where did I leave off? Ah, calendar sales.... well, to sum it up in a few words, it was slow, it was tough and I had a heck of a lot of boxes left over. Out of desperation I did door to door sales in Hopedale and Uxbridge, my first time ever selling door to door. I averaged one sale out of every three houses visited- which I eventually found out was a pretty good result. But the rejection was difficult and the longer I did it, the harder it got. A few bright spots were appearing, the local chamber of commerce let me speak for a few minutes at a networking event and I sold a bunch of calendars and made some good introductions. Among those in the audience that night was the president of the local bank that hosted the event, the same bank where I did my business banking. During the event, I had approached the bank's president to introduce myself and Project Smile, but after less than 30 seconds, someone approached him and called him away. I was disappointed to say the least. I spoke later that night and a couple of days later I received an email from the bank president's daughter, a high school student. She told me that her father had come home and told her all about Project Smile and she wanted to get involved. I was amazed, I hadn't thought I had made any connection with him. I knew he had been in the audience when I spoke, but I didn't get to speak to him again after our brief meeting. His daughter ended up starting a local chapter in her town and did an awesome job before she graduated and went to college.

So 2005 came and we kept working on reaching more police departments. A local police officer had recommended that I apply for a grant at our local Wal Mart, I followed his advice and we received a $1,000 grant (it was a marvelous feeling receiving that phone call). So money was trickling in, but we were still fighting for survival. I was taking a paycheck, but it was the barest amount that I could live on. I went to work on our 2006 calendar. The advertising sales got a little bit easier. I decided that we would do a raffle to encourage calendar sales. I had connected with a former town employee at a town event in April, I knew he donated Patriots and Red Sox tickets for charity events, so I called him and he promised that he would donate two Patriots tickets that we could use as a raffle prize. He said to call him in August when the tickets arrived. August came and I called. No response. I called again and again. He finally picked up his phone. The tickets hadn't arrived he said. I knew from someone else who had season tickets, that they arrived two weeks ago. He said to call him back. I did many times. He never responded. So a few weeks before the calendar came out, I went to work calling as many businesses as possible to get gift certificate donations for raffle prizes. We ended up with a list of about 15 items, mostly gift cards to restaurants, movies and supermarkets.

Then Hurricane Katrina hit and we were all shocked by the devastation. I wanted to arrange a donation of stuffed animals to give to the children who had lost everything. I knew I needed some help. I had a meeting with the Worcester office of a company, Paul Davis Restoration. They had been our very first business sponsor and they also bought boxes for us with our logo on them (such a change from Poland Spring boxes) I mentioned to the owner that I wanted to send stuffed animals to the children who were staying in the Houston Astrodome. I said it, not really expecting that he would be in a position to help. The next day, his office had arranged to drive a truck from Worcester, MA down to Houston filled with boxes of stuffed animals. So, I spent labor day weekend in my garage, along with Paul Davis Restoration's marketing director who I had become friends with, and we sorted stuffed animals and for a day and a half. The Ben Franklin Bank had done a stuffed animal drive for us shortly before, so along with their donation and what we already had, we had 3,700 stuffed animals driven to the Houston Astrodome. It was an amazing donation and I was so happy that we could do something on a large scale.

However, as great as that was, we were still hurting. Our bill from the printer's was due and I couldn't afford to pay it. I had maybe 2 months operating expenses in the bank. At times, the anxiety was almost overwhelming. And then it happened- the phone call of all phone calls.....
Until next time...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Project Smile, the Early Days Continued

My third posting and it is still quite exciting. So to continue from yesterday- the summer of 2004 I decided to do a calendar to help raise funds. The first thing I needed was to get some police officers on board. I thought it would be simple, it wasn't. The first department I talked to, a small local department that we donated to, said that no one wanted to be involved because the officers didn't want to be recognized since they do undercover work. Now, I'm all for undercover work, but this town is tiny, everyone knows everyone, people leave doors unlocked, crime is minimal and there sure as heck isn't a whole lot of undercover working going down. So, I was struggling on that end. The advertising wasn't fairing much better. I was calling businesses right and left, but it was slow and tough. I had a one page info sheet about Project Smile that I typed up- now I look at it and grimace at its rudimentary design, but it was all I had. We had Uxbridge police on board to participate, so I went door to door in Uxbridge trying to sell advertising space to businesses. The very first store I went into, a small bookshop, I sold a $100 ad. I was over the moon! However, not only was that the first business in Uxbridge to be on board, it was the only one.

I wrote to our bank that we had our business account at, thinking they would be more apt to get on board. We asked for a $300 sponsorship, we received a check for $25. The process was disheartening, there were times I hung up the phone after getting turned down yet again and cried. However, I was still convinced it would be done. I called a local Milford lawyer that I had never met, but my father had known. He happily jumped on board and his $300 check was our very first donation. I cried in happiness as I deposited it. I remembered another businessman that I had met when I was 16 through my father. He had given me his business card and told me that if I ever needed anything, make sure I called. I held onto the card, keeping it for almost 9 years in my black travel bag. Through good times and the many not so good times that I went through, that card stayed in the little zippered pouch. I was nervous about calling, at first he was a little hesitant, business wasn't doing well for him and he had only met me once. But after I told him how I held onto his card for so long, he was happy to help out and got his brother on board to share the cost. I called as many people as I could who could help, I got other police departments who were going to be in the calendar to help sell advertising space and finally it was done. We got the local department to change their mind and they were in the calendar. It was the toughest thing I had done, but it was also exciting. I did all the photos myself, using a second hand 35 mm Canon camera that I bought for about $100. Photos were a blast, I met great officers and some terrific kids.

Along the way, I was introduced to another, much larger non profit based near Boston. I had received a call there from a lady who wanted to donate the stuffed animals they received to us. I met two of the people that ran the organization. The woman gave me some of the most helpful basic advice that I had received. She told me that we needed a logo and a good graphic designer who would also work on the calendar, brochure and letterhead. I knew I needed someone to do the calendar layout, but a logo? I hadn't even thought of it. She introduced me to Lisa, a mom, living in Quincy, who did part time graphic design work. She was awesome and our logo was soon born, along with a spiffy brochure, letterhead and kick-ass business cards (that I couldn't afford to get actually printed, so I kept using my old not so kick-ass ones).

Anyways, calendar is finally finished and goes to print. I followed the not-so-good advice of a local chamber of commerce leader who recommended I print 2,000 calendars instead of the original 1,000 that I was going to. He said it would be easy sales. Ah, not quite. 2,000 calendars packed in incredibly heavy boxes were ready on November 1. Now all I had to was sell them...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Project Smile, the Early Days

My second posting and I'm quite excited! I don't have much time, but wanted to get a little more in. I don't want my blogs to be all about the history of Project Smile, the goal is to be in the present. But to at least understand where Project Smile is now, it is helpful to know a little more about where it came from. So to continue: the summer of 2004 came and I started working full time. I opened our first business checking account at a local bank, Ben Franklin, with a $50 personal check. We had a website, at the time I liked it, but it left a lot to be desired. I was calling up police departments and donating stuffed animals left and right, that was the easy part.

Getting the stuffed animals was a heck of a lot harder. I was driving all over, sometimes over an hour to collect stuffed animals from parents who had read about our work and wanted to donate. Although every donation was helpful, people frequently donated every stuffed animals their child ever owned, regardless of its condition. A problem we still experience. I would drive down to Hannaford, a local supermarket in Milford to collect Poland Spring water bottle boxes for the stuffed animals. The guys at the store were awesome to me. I would print out pages with our name on it and tape it to the boxes. Our stationary was just Project Smile and our address written on the header- no logo, no nothing. $50 in the bank.

We needed funds. Urgently. I knew that most organizations created calendars as fundraising items, so I decided that we would do a Project Smile calendar. Black/white, high quality, with photos of police officers with their children. We would sell ads to pay for the production costs and the calendar would sell for a $10 donation. Good idea, no problem, let's go- if only it was that simple......
Until next time..

Monday, January 7, 2008

My First Post

Welcome to my very first blog posting! I've wanted to start a blog for a while, and now with the new year, I finally decided this was the time! Why blog? I wanted to share all that stuff that goes on with Project Smile, that no one usually ever hears about. It's not about complaining how difficult things are, how much money we need, or gloating when we do raise funds. It's about the daily work; the successes, struggles and everything in between.

A little background: Project Smile is a non profit organization that I started in October 2003. I was 23 years old and working part time as the director of the extended day program at the Dover/Sherborn Middle School and going to graduate school part time. Holiday time was fast approaching and I was looking for something to do with my students as a holiday activity. Every so often, I would pick up the New York Post. My fondness for the Post dated back to my days in New York City. I went to college there and everyday, walking to school, I would glance down at the Post to read their remarkable screaming headlines. After coming back to MA, the Post fondness still lingers.

Anyways, on this particular day, I picked up the Post and saw on the front page a photo of 3 brothers who were starved by their adoptive parents. The abuse was horrific; the children literally ate scraps of paint off the walls. One was 1o years old and weighed only 28 pounds. When the police arrived to remove the boys from the house, an officer gave one of the boys a stuffed animal that he kept in his cruiser to give to a child. The article said that the boy clung to it and refused to let go of it through his entire time at the police station.

I read the article and that got me thinking of starting a stuffed animal drive in our school in which we would donate to some police departments, particularly those that serve low income or higher crime areas. I still remember sitting a student's desk with my purple spiral bound notebook and red pen, trying to come up with a catchy name for our stuffed animal drive. On that fall afternoon, Project Smile was born. I had no idea where it would go, all I wanted was to get the students enthused, collect some stuffed animals and donate to a few departments. I would have been happy with about 200 stuffed animals. We collected 1,800 stuffed animals in one month. I went home after work each day with my car filled with bags of stuffed animals (the school couldn't store them for us). Little did I know, that trend would continue. We donated to the Framingham Police, Worcester Police, the Mass. State Police and three hospitals. The press came, took photos and wrote a few nice articles. The response had been great, beyond anything that I had even thought of. From the articles, I received phone calls from parents who wanted to donate their children's stuffed animals to a good cause and I started talking to more police departments who wanted to be involved.

Suddenly, it became something more. I couldn't even tell you when it happened, when I knew I wanted to do this full time. We were incorporated as a non profit in MA on April 8, 2004 (my brother's birthday). I was doing it part time then, but I knew my job at Dover/Sherborn was going to be eliminated and I was totally fine with that, it was time to move on. I knew it was time to move full time to Project Smile. The funny thing is, I had never had a doubt about working full time on an organization that had no money, had only worked with maybe 15 departments, no logo, small board of directors, no website, not even a business card. All Project Smile had was me. I knew it would be challenge, but I've always loved a challenge. Above all, it felt right, felt like a natural progression. Maybe I was a little young and naive, but I will always be forever grateful for that choice.

So here it is, my first posting. There is much more to say about our early days and there is much to say about everything I'm working on today. Until next time...