Maybe this should be one of the last posts. Maybe I’m a little nostalgic after spending the better part of a Spring, Summer, Fall, and now working on Winter, not doing as much in my city, but Fort Wayne is important to our story. It has become a much more vibrant city than when I was a kid. Just look at these wonderful pictures. If you’ve never been here in the summer, it can be a pretty fun and special place. Summers here at great. So are the people and that’s maybe the biggest part of our “Why….Local?”
As mentioned in our first post: “Why…Give Back?”, this isn’t what we planned from the beginning. We just wanted to get in better shape. I definitely needed it but again, the goal wasn’t to do this for charity and when we made that decision, it was a huge turning point in the team’s evolution. It became about much more than ourselves but when that question whether to run for charity was answered, another was posed, “Who?”
If you also recall, because we hadn’t done this before, the expectations were fairly low. We just weren’t sure what we could do so our focus turned to groups that we could do something for that what we did could make an impact, even with a smaller fundraising total.
Really at that point, something or someone local was really where we turned. $500 for The American Heart Association was a nice donation but they bring in millions annually. We’d just be another donor with a nice sized gift but again, we’d largely be just another number to them. Please don’t take this that we don’t care for the large charities. That’s not the case. We certainly support what they do but we really wanted our running and fundraising to leave a mark. That was a point that became more and more important to us and so the focused truly turned to what does the profile of that organization look like?
We started looking around trying to come up with ideas and it came clear to us fairly quickly. We were proud of our city so it needed to be local to Fort Wayne and we wanted to make an impact so it needed to be something on a smaller scale. It wasn’t long after that when I noticed a post from a friend about Kate’s Kart and how they affected their family with giving their kid a book when they were in the hospital and it was a lightbulb moment. My wife and I had just gone through a similar scenario with our oldest and it just seemed like a no-brainer. I proposed it to our team and said, here’s a small charity that serves a nice portion of the Fort Wayne area, specifically kids, and if we can raise $1,000, that’s a lot of books they can buy.
The next few years manifested itself in about $16,000 in fundraising for them which is approximately 2300 books that they could purchase because of us. That was a truly awesome feeling because it accomplished everything we’d hoped our efforts would. We helped a great organization locally and made a nice impact for them. They weren’t a million dollar organization so donating $2250, $3610, $4536, and $5610 in consecutive years to their benefit was hugely impactful. That many books covered, at one time, a months worth of books so it worked well for us for a good while.
During that time, some thoughts turned to, could we do this for 2 organizations? I always kept an eye towards possibilities and NeighborLink was one of those groups that I thought to myself that if we were able to do more, they seemed like a great and worthwhile organization to partner with and that thought couldn’t have been confirmed more. The difference was that we would be taking our efforts to them solely and that wasn’t something I could have foretold.
In the Fall of ’18, it became apparent that we needed to move on to something new and that was a hard decision to make but when things fell into place with NeighborLink For Wayne, it felt like we were exactly where we needed to be and we’ve not looked back. Part of it is that with NeighborLink, we went from helping a very small, very specific segment of our Fort Wayne community to serving a much larger segment. This has opened up who our efforts can help to a much greater extent.
When I look at the above pictures, I see all of the beautiful things that encompass what makes Fort Wayne special: Promenade Park, Parkview Field, and on and on and those are great but like so many cities, not everything is shiny and pretty. There’s grief, struggle, and difficulty for many citizens and I feel that through our support of NeighborLink Fort Wayne, we’re able to help strike at that a bit.
I can’t say that we won’t ever try to do something on a larger scale but for now and the foreseeable future, it’s a pretty good feeling knowing that what we’re doing makes a difference right here in Fort Wayne, IN.