Invest Hope’s Hurricane Matthew Update

I have had a number of folks ask how Hurricane Matthew has affected both Invest Hope and those living in Peredo. Our director, Ginny, recently posted this on her blog:

“David and I have talked with people in Peredo and they say it is flooded and gardens are destroyed. Thankfully, as far as everyone knows, everyone is OK.

We have had a few people ask about sending Invest Hope relief money. We are not taking relief funds specifically for the hurricane at this time. If you do want to help, we recommend donating to Samaritan’s Purse who in on ground in Haiti and already has significant relief work experience in Haiti in the name of Jesus. [Link listed below.]

Please continue to pray for the people in Peredo in the coming weeks/months as gardens were destroyed and roads washed away by water.”

If you want to contribute to Hurricane Matthew relief in Haiti via Samaritan’s Purse, please click here.

If you would like to contribute to Invest Hope’s current programs and future projects via our general fund, please click here and then click the big DONATE NOW button on the righthand side of our page.

Thank you!

Hello, again.

Remember me? haha

I never intended to take an entire month off. I really thought my hiatus would only be two weeks, tops. But apparently I needed a little extra time to get things in order. You know? …I like to think I’m a good multi-tasker. But juggling two blog sites is a little more challenging than I expected. Especially with everything else I have going on!

So, I really only have two exciting things to report:

1. I went to Indianapolis, IN (Nov 15-18) for a four-day convention called the International Conference on Missions. I was honored to be there representing Invest Hope for our first official exhibit booth. [And it is always good to spend time with out-of-state friends.] I think we may have been a little over-prepared for the convention, but all-in-all I considered the weekend a success. It was a learning experience, for sure. I met a lot of people and made a few new friends. What little I saw of Indianapolis was beautiful. I really would love to go back to the city as a tourist. And as a photographer. I fell in love with some of the architecture there.

Since we’re on the subject of photography… 🙂

2. I have the bug to get back into it. I go through phases. Most days, I believe photography is a lost art. There are so many people with decent digital cameras now, that everyone thinks they’re a professional. I saw something a few weeks ago, I think on Pinterest, that said something like “The camera doesn’t make the photographer, the person behind it does.” So true! I wish people would understand that. I wouldn’t mind if the field was oversaturated with folk who were skillfully trained in photography and digital darkrooms… but to be oversaturated with just people who are “self-taught” photo editors, it breaks my heart. Call me a photo snob if you wish, but pouring my time, money, and soul to obtain a degree in it made me that way. 😉

So I try to remain a true artist… using photography as the medium that it is. I like using the knowledge and skill that I gained in college to capture nuances that most would overlook. And I try very hard to stay away from commercial photography, although I have worked as a professional commercial photographer on many occasions.

From time to time, I get an itch to use people as subjects in my photos. And the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to get models is to offer family portrait packages to folks. Recently, I took senior portraits for a friend’s daughter, Casey. It was a fun experience. Casey is a natural. She was easy to direct, easy to shoot, and easy to edit. She wanted more photos done, at a different location, so I scheduled another shoot with her. Now… I have four more sessions lined up for Christmas photos with other families.

Perhaps I cave, one more time. 😉 Maybe it is time to sell out and schedule even more photo shoots to appease my photography cravings and make a little extra cash too. Don’t be surprised if this blog turns into a digital portfolio to showcase some of my work in the near future. I doubt it will stay that way for long, but hopefully you guys will enjoy the posts while you can get them!

Let Us Do Good to All People

I love to give. I will donate my time, my services, and/or my money to just about any legit charity. It apparently is no secret.

This morning, I awoke to a text message asking me if I’d like to purchase a tub of cookie dough for a preschool fundraiser. This is the 5th tub of cookie dough that I’ve been asked to purchase in the past week. Apparently, people freely spend $15 on 3lb of frozen lard & sugar. Although I have graciously declined everyone’s offer to purchase something so incredibly unhealthy, I don’t mind sending a check over to the schools to show that people actually DO give without expecting anything in return…

…or do they? Am I the only person who does this? My mind became cluttered with so many thoughts, and I suddenly questioned how (and why) these fundraising efforts work.

I have been fundraising for various charities for 15 years now. I have raised thousands of dollars for well-known nonprofits. The most successful fundraisers have been those where people purchased something, knowing that a portion of their proceeds go to charity. No one stops to ask how much; they seem fine with just knowing “some” of it does. The more I pondered over that, the more I became frustrated. Why do so many schools hold these fundraisers? Why cookie dough? Shouldn’t we be promoting a healthier society? Are these fundraisers really necessary? What is purchased with these donations? Why won’t people give just $5 to MY kids?

There… I said it. Perhaps part of my frustration is that I see healthy children going to private schools here in the United States of America trying to raise money – and succeeding – while “my” kids in Haiti struggle to have food to eat. Most of them do not own shoes, and their families (if they’re blessed with families) do not have transportation. That means these sweet children have to walk barefoot over rocks and through unclean water. So many Haitian children are still living in tents, having lost their homes to the 2010 earthquake. The “fortunate” children who live in houses still do not have running water and electricity. A large amount of children in Haiti never get an education. There are also a lot of children who have medical problems that cannot be cared for in their country. They have to go through a long application process and waiting period to see if they are even eligible to come to the US to receive treatment. Since when did a human life fall short to luxuries of education here in the States?

It is so hard for me to understand why I can’t even get small donations for our mission. I’m not asking for much… less than a tub of cookie dough! I am asking folks to please give up a McDonald’s combo meal or a Starbuck’s Venti Latte for just one day. Then, donate $5 a month to Invest Hope… or another charity in a country stricken with poverty and disease. If you’d prefer to stay local, please find a Children’s Home, Food Bank, Shelter, or Special Needs program in your area. Look for the small, struggling nonprofits who have a greater and more direct impact to their communities. Give to them without expecting anything in return… and I promise, you will receive more satisfaction from it than you will ever get from cookie dough.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…”
– Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

To learn more about Invest Hope, click here. For details on how you can invest hope in the future of Haitian children, please contact us at info@investhope.com or on Facebook or Twitter.

My Name is Jenn, and This is My Ah-ha Moment.

What an honor it was last month to receive an invitation to participate in Mutual of Omaha’s Ah-ha Moment campaign. What a surprise to find out the campaign’s tour would be scheduled in Winston Salem on June 10th, my 35th birthday. Without hesitation, I quickly accepted the offer with both gratitude and enthusiasm. This would certainly help make my day memorable.

What exactly is an Ah-ha Moment?
Mutual of Omaha describes it as:

It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.

Whether big or small, funny or sad, they can be surprising and inspiring. Each one is unique, deeply personal, and we think, worth sharing.

Mutual of Omaha celebrates and honors these moments and the people who act upon them. We’re proud to have the products and services that can help people insure their possibilities.

A few weeks after accepting the invitation, it started to sink in that this was really going to happen! I needed to prepare. I researched the campaign, and debated which of my life’s many ah-ha moments would I choose to share. The more I anticipated this somewhat surreal situation, the more nervous I became. Am I really worthy of this invitation? What IS my ah-ha moment? Does anything I say or do really inspiring others? Finally remembering that I also had to renew my license on June 10, I considered contacting Mutual of Omaha and gracefully stepping down.

How many invitations were given out? Would backing down from this opportunity be a huge mistake? I continued to review my life, searching for something that would be meaningful. I knew that I had many moments of clarity in my life, but one alone just didn’t seem to hold the value of all of them put together. Then it hit me. There is something pretty amazing about my journey. It is like a giant puzzle. Could this realization be the ultimate in ah-has?

I started to make note of my time line:

  • At age 4, I decided I wanted to be an artist.
  • Age 18, I entered art school.
  • Age 22, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.
  • Age 24, I was victim to my first layoff.
  • Age 26, I fell victim again.
  • At age 30, I was burnt out. Tired of ‘corporate America’, I desired a job that meant something. I wanted a job that made a difference. I looked to the medical field for a solution, and enrolled in nursing & coding courses. In September of that same year, I had officially retired from Graphic Design and was employed in a medical office.
  • At age 32, I realized that even a job in medicine doesn’t always make your life fulfilling. That, and I really missed being creative. I looked for opportunities to freelance, but I still sought something more. I dove into volunteer work with well-known charities. Although I gained a lot of knowledge working with these nonprofits, I was heartbroken at how some ran their organization like a corporation. Yes, a corporation – the same thing I fled from two short years before.

 

I had spent the better part of the past three years fine-tuning my freelance business into JennB.Creative. I wanted my creativity to be used to a maximum, while assisting nonprofits and start-up businesses. I wasn’t in it to become rich; I just knew the struggle of wanting to get a business off the ground. I aspired to give them the opportunity to have professional marketing material on their budget. I did all of this while working full-time for a local hospital and searching for the right nonprofit that best suited my beliefs.

As you read last month, my search is over. I am now happily involved with Invest Hope, a faith-based mission seeking to end poverty in Haiti by providing means for Haitian businesses to get off the ground. I never saw the entire correlation between my life’s desires and Invest Hope until I was forced to search for my perfect ah-ha moment. I think it’s pretty awesome to see things come full circle. It reminds me that there IS a purpose to my life, and it is unfolding at just the right speed.

Today, after renewing my license, I pulled up to a Silver Stream travel trailer parked outside of the Old Salem Visitors Center. Still a bit nervous, I walked up to a petite blonde sitting under a canopy, and introduced myself. It was time to share my moment with the world. I was still very nervous… okay, beyond nervous. Even with words of assurance from the Mutual of Omaha crew, I could feel my chest turning red with anxiety. I was escorted to a bar stool in the front of the travel trailer, and prompted to tell my story. I was probably too enthusiastic about it, but the emotion overwhelmed me. Anxiety turned to appreciation, and I was overcome with happiness. This experience was, in fact, my biggest eye-opening moment. Ah-ha!

I was told the video should be posted on Mutual of Omaha’s YouTube channel in roughly 14 days. Although I’m a bit embarrassed to see my video, I am really looking forward to it, checking out the other videos taped in Winston Salem, and to see where the tour stops next. I am forever indebted to have had this experience. Happy 35th to me!