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My birthday projects: #ASalute2U and #Project831

Birthdays are typically days of celebration. The fact that one is able to add another year to one's life is indeed a gift and a blessing, as there are far too many who may never see such an occasion.

Today's op-ed is more than celebrating a birthday, but using said energy and action for things more meaningful.
Taken by Andrew Snorton

It is also a time where people sometimes do the typical, ranging from hiring a circus or a magician for kids' party, making a visit to Chuck-E-Cheese, going on vacation, or even doing it big in some sort of social establishment.

While that is all fine and dandy, as people mature, the manner in which you celebrate sometimes shows a similar level of growth. There is inherently nothing wrong with a little pomp and circumstance, but when you take a look at things around you, you are able to see that some of the celebratory energy can be channeled into something bigger and better than the norm.

I'm fortunate that with the upcoming big day for me, I'm able to do something that quite frankly can be more meaningful and more important. It's not as if I'm not going to take a moment to take in some live music (jazz), break bread with friends, or spend time with family. But in light of the current highlights of cases taking place in the "heartland" of America, the Big Apple, or the self-inflicted woes well documented in one of our larger cities and even close to home, I embrace the reality that when the spotlight is on me, it must be placed on things that are bigger in order to draw awareness, attention, support, and some sort of constructive action.

This Saturday's #ASalute2U awards is something that I am extremely humbled to be a part of. The August 16th event taking place at Future Vision from 1-5pm is a nice day-partyesque event, but it's not just a party. The organization, driven by Sherry Reed, is taking time to not only focus on its platform of the empowerment of women and children, but celebrate and recognize men that are making a positive and powerful impact on the lives of others. 12 men are being honored for the work they do, ranging from the fields of law, business, media, nonprofits, religion, and other community-connected fields; while part of the spotlight is being placed on them, the bigger focus is on the areas of concern they are investing their time and talents for.

At a time where the images, be they real or strategically concocted in order to place a condemning light on a specific segment of our immediate and larger community, is the subconsciously co-signed upon "norm", Saturday's event is a clear and definitive break from such regularities. While issues and problems have every right to be addressed and reported upon, so too should be the stories of impact, the celebration and encouragement of such activity, and the systematic call for others to take a look around them, identify problematic areas, and determine the level of involvement and participation they are able to do to support said actions in order to make things as markedly better as possible.

While extremely humbled to be a part of the day's events, it's also a reminder that I have to take a step up and forward in being a constructive, encouraging, and positive agent of change, and what better time than the days leading up to my "personal holiday" than with the project I feel and know that I have to do in order to move things in a positive and powerful direction. That project, is #Project831.

831 new donors? $8310 raised to support a nonprofit that you are closely associated with? What's the big deal with the number 831?

For starters, anyone who works with a nonprofit knows that donors are your lifeblood of your organization. Yes, it does take grants and business partnerships, but the majority of your push percentage-wise is with the individuals who take time to support you. In order for people to support you, you have to consistently share your story of impact, ranging from the quantitative (numbers) to the qualitative (actual stories of impact). Given the work of the The LEAD Foundation and its core programming, its male-mentoring program (The REEL Project) for middle and high school young men, to is leadership development program for middle and high school men and women (The Alpha Leadership Program for Higher Achievement), the content and hands-on learning opportunities are essential in more than just a student's academic prowess and personal growth. With a mantra of developing tomorrow's leaders today, given the call of consistent and stable leadership and empowerment, along with helping people expand on the means in which their voices are heard, recognized, respected, and accounted for, the case and call for such programs is truly urgent, along with its extension programs ranging from college tours, scholarship opportunities, and summer camps.

Why the number 831? Considering it's (August 31st) is my day of debut (i.e. my birthday), it seems like there's a symmetrical fit to it all; the same holds true for the total of $8310, as having that large of a donor base doing just a little (if my math is correct, it averages out to $10 per donor), it allows an opportunity for all who see the merit and value to operate under the mantra of "a lot doing a little is better than a few doing it all". By making a visit here and learning the story, the reason is ever so clear to do something of substance right now and right here (it's ok to click on THIS LINK).

Call it a dream, but in order to make an impact of a serious and sincere nature, it starts with a thought. The thought, clearly articulated, along with adequate mapping and consistency, can lead to a potential and prospective impact. Combine with a passion with the understanding of doing so for genuine means and using the personal spotlight for a greater mission and meaning, there's no telling what can happen.

Again, there has always been a call for action, but given the internal areas of concern (i.e. the fact that among all ethnic groups, the majority of victims of crime and activities grounded in the disregard for human life are the same as the perpetrator) along with external areas of concern (as evidenced in cases ranging from Mike Brown to the historical reality of the 3/5 Amendment and the remnants of the mentality behind it), as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. noted in his masterpiece for a call to action in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, "I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham", or in my case, in my immediate community, my adopted community of Winston-Salem (NC), my hometown(s) in New Jersey, my friends in Chicago, and other places near and far. While #Project831 may not eradicate the disease, its action can be an improved stimulus to working closer to the cure and better solving the problem.

My birthday is upon me, but it's not about me; it has to be, moving forward, about "we".