What we have been waiting for has finally arrived. Our 501-3C status has been approved. There is no doubt in my mind that the Foundations Group was the critical factor. Also, finally filing the 990 with the IRS. Late, yes, but as is apparent by our success, better late than never.
It is interesting that I have been waiting on this status in order to begin formal fundraising, and I can tell you now, I think that was a mistake. All donations made from our original filing in October 2020 would have been approved for a tax write-off.
So many things are in full movement right now, I am not sure even how to begin this whole fundraising effort. Early in our start-up, we had made a decision to use a relationship approach to fundraising, based on the book, "The Generosity Network." I believe we have been working on our relationships, but so far we haven't had much success in raising funds.
Still, I have faith.
Keep your eyes open for our donate button as I make an attempt to navigate this process. And if you like what we are doing, please donate. You can even officially write it off.
I was looking at some notes I had written down when contemplating this project. One thing that is very important to me is to empower people to live their best lives. That really is the crux of the project. But the truth is, that even in being empowered, it doesn't mean I have to do it alone. I live my best life when I find the common purpose and share vision and my gifts in collaboration with others.
This project is attracting people who have good hearts, and want to give. Recently we had someone donate some food items that we couldn't immediately see us using in our after school programming. There was an initial thought that perhaps we could serve a role as a food dispensary. I was pretty tired at the moment, but it didn't feel right. It didn't feel as if it fit with our mission. I realized that we do not want to become simply a place to give things away. If we are not teaching someone something with our gifts, if we are not empowering them, we are creating dependence.
Once that part of the vision was clarified again, we came up with half a dozen things we could do with the food. All of these things inspired creativity, would bring the community together and also would feed our neighborhood while lifting people up. The point is that the vision is beginning to live not just within me, but within our team of amazing leaders.
Of course we don't want to create dependence. We want to empower people to be less dependent. But it is not about being completely independent either. We want loving community. We want connection with others. We want to share our gifts and realize our interdependence.
I have consistently struggled with how do I loosen the reigns. I don't want to be a dictator. I want to support the growth of others, and make it less about me and more about what the community members can bring to the table.
I can see that it is working. I am able to step back, and people can step in and shine their light. This was ever so apparent when during my time visiting my mother in Chicago, the team held a successful community event that even received media coverage. Thank you team!
In a project like this, it is so important that we allow others to contribute their own personal vision and mission to the energy of the project. No one has been more influential to bringing clarity to our vision that Kelly Beal and her personal mission to bring more kindness to the world through Keegan's Krew Anti-Bullying Campaign. It is only through allowing her own passion to come through that a clear direction for our shared vision is being realized at the Community House. Loving kindness really is the cornerstone for us all.
You can check out the story here.
The Community House Network is built on a philosophical framework that believes that in order to bring positive change you must focus on the positive. It doesn't mean you have to ignore the negative, but we can know the negative is there simply as a contrast to the beauty of all of the positive things we each hold within us.
There is a great deal of research around this. In fact their is an entire field of study devoted to it, called Positive Psychology. The pioneers of this field investigated the best of humanity throughout the world. They discovered that humanity has a lot in common when it comes to goodness.
The research showed 6 core themes to our strengths and virtues. Each month we focus on one of these themes at the Community House. This month it is Courage.
However, it is also the month of Thanksgiving, and that is most often associated with gratitude. Gratitude is such a powerful virtue. Gratitude opens the heart to receive. No wonder gratitude is associated with the theme of Transcendence.
Today I have so much to be grateful for. I am thankful for my family, for all of those who have joined me on this journey. I am grateful for a second chance at life through this beautiful process of recovery. I am thankful for all of the opportunities and even responsibilities that have been presented to me. I am thankful for true friendship!
Join us on Saturday, November 27th at 1PM for a Friendsgiving. Have some delicious food to celebrate and give thanks to all we have been given.
I can hear the people in our community crying tonight. A young boy was shot over at Cooper's gas station. That is not the first time, and probably won't be the last.
"Why isn't anyone doing anything?" I can hear them cry.
"Where are the police?" "How can this violence continue?"
I myself ask those questions too. I am angry too.
Last summer, I stopped a fight in the middle of the road in front of the Community House. Two gangs of boys had started jumping each other. I called out for them to stop. I told one boy that I knew and his brother to go home. I finally called the police. The police arrived and said they were told not to do anything when there was this type of fighting.
What is going on?
There is open drug sales and drug use down in front of the gas station. Just yesterday when I went to get gas, there were two men standing in front of the store, simply waiting. Waiting, I presume, for customers.
I have even seen people injecting drugs out in the open, just sitting on the curb facing the street. This kind of emboldened behavior is a signal that there is absolutely no fear of police. My neighbor with a developmental delay, had drugs given to her in a box of chicken. She was so afraid the police were going to get her, she came to me. Another neighbor informed me of the use of one of the abandoned stores on Sheridan being used as an illegal night-club. He said he informed the police, but they are actively ignoring it.
What is going on?
And now this. A young boy gunned down. The kids from the Art Garage knew this boy, and they are afraid. They asked me to walk them home from the Community House. They are angry and shocked and confused. What kind of world are we living in?
Our goal at the Community House is to help them to become Ambassadors of Kindness. To make a decision to help make this world a better place. To do what they can to spread peace, and stop the violence.
I think we need to stand up for peace! What do you think?
Join us on November 11th
at the Community House
2223 N. Sheridan Rd.
During our open hours from 3 to 6PM
There is so much that we need to heal in our world.
We can start with ourselves, but how?
First, can we even identify those aspects of our lives that are sick?
Maybe it relates to our physical health. Maybe our emotions are unbalanced. Maybe our relationships are sick. Or perhaps we are spiritually sick, that is, I don't know who I truly am. I am sick in spirit.
This month we will begin hosting a healing circle at the Community House. It will be emergent, as is most of our programming, welcoming in what will serve our community and individual needs most. It will include some form of meditation and prayer, and some form of alternative healing (bioenergy, sound healing, etc).
Healing has been a critical part of my own journey. It has made it possible for me to be myself and to live an unconventional life filled with joy and spontaneity.
No matter what your issue, there is hope for a better life when we open ourselves to the possibility of healing.
In just a few days it will be one year since the Community House Network was officially filed as a NFP. It is hard to believe it. In many ways so much has happened, and still we are struggling to fulfill the vision.
The hardest part is getting others to see what has taken me more than two decades to come into clarity. I am like the conductor of an orchestra where the music hasn't yet been transcribed onto sheets. People are playing old familiar tunes, when what we want is a completely new sound.
There are a few ideas I am toying with to help people realize the vision. Those on the team need to know that it is possible and not just a pipe-dream. First, is the use of established research, books, videos and existing successful models that reflect play-based, discovery based, self-directed learning. Although, I have had extensive training in the scholarship of leadership and learning, it is somewhat unfair for me to assume that others should just naturally know these facts. Most of what I believe is unconventional, and although it is steeped in a depth of both research knowledge and personal experience, how can I expect to transmit this to those who have neither the knowledge or experience to back it up?
Second is to create a clear curriculum for them to follow. If they can see how it is done, and see the results in action, then perhaps they will be able to trust the process.
Trust really is the main thing. Trusting the process. It will start to take form through the action. If we work small, taking little steps into this new arena, people will start to see it happening. This can build faith in the process and then we can build on the momentum.
I so desire at this point to be able to take a little break, but in order to ensure that this train doesn't go off the rails, that might not happen for some time.
I am working on an emergent curriculum, based on our formational documents. I am happy to share it here. Remember it is a work in progress.
There is a principle in the psychology of wellbeing and performance known as Flow. It was an area researched extensively by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, his work follows a tradition of research that has focused on the best aspects of the human being.
Flow is thought of as a state of consciousness. It is achieved when we are doing what we love. It is often experienced during the act of creating, or performing. I like to see flow as a state of being in connection to something greater. This project is something greater than me. I know.
There is most definitely energy in this project. It has a life of its own. If I can stay in the stream of what is wanting to emerge, I can participate in this. If I go against what wants to emerge, I will experience resistance.
How can I stay in the flow of thing?
The other day I was stepping away from it all to clear my head, and found a box of free stuff. I love free stuff. In it was the recorded lecture and workshop by Wayne Dyer, "Inspiration: Your Ultimate Calling". I started listening to it today, and it reminded me of the power of connecting to that thing beyond me. It also reminds me that it is wonderful to live our best life, and we should never shy away from living in spirit.
I believe there is something offered here as a way to stay in flow. As Wayne Dyer states:
"I have learned to remove the resistance from the free flow of spiritual energy, by reminding myself to align with it, to be in spirit in my thoughts and my expectations."
This is a beautiful concept, that takes the forcing, fear and resistance out of the way as the vision starts to unfold.
He talks about creating and holding on to our vision as one of the core elements of living an inspired life.
"The desire to find our way to inspiration involves creating a vision of living in spirit 100% of the time, even if we don't have a clue what we should be doing or what our mission is."
It is easy to get discouraged, and fall into despair, but if we do we lose that connection to spirit.
So find something that inspires you today. Connect to that feeling and know that it will lead you closer to your path.
I have struggled a bit with people who stand back on the sidelines and judge rather than coming in to participate. I can't tell you why these people do this. I know how it feels on my side of the fence and it isn't pleasant.
There are several different themes of judgement.
One consists of "That girl is crazy," to which I am happy to reply, "If this is what crazy looks like, we need a whole lot more of crazy in this world."
Another is, "That girl thinks she is all that. She want's to 'save the world.'"
I have a hard time with this one, because truly I am doing my best not to make this project about me, but to hold space in the community for what is needed and what wants to emerge. Also, I really do not want accolades. I have no desire for my name in lights. I am happiest when I am playing with the kids on off calendar times and days. Nothing brings me more joy than to see someone else using the space for their own good works or individuals benefiting from what the Community House is offering.
So why am I doing this? I can say without any hesitation, that I want to do good in the world.
If you want to also do good, then come join the fun. I am sure there is something here where you can share your gifts too!
There are a lot of phrases you can hear in the rooms of the 12 steps that are profoundly meaningful. This is a place where people are coming to terms with the wreckage of their past, and the wisdom that ensues when we start to open up to living the good life, the one that God intended, is a profoundly uplifting experience.
One thing I heard a couple years back that has stuck with me since, was someone talking about how they spent most of their lives avoiding responsibility. I can say I could relate to that sentiment. He ended his share about how he now spent his life chasing responsibility.
What does that mean? To me it is doing the thing I know is right and needs to be done regardless of what I want to do. So this past weekend, regardless of what I really wanted to do, I shut down the Community House as I and 3 other ladies went and got Covid tested. The hope was that we would have results in time to decide on running the event, but I knew it was probably going to lead to the event being cancelled. Indeed the results didn't come in until Sunday late afternoon, and although they were all negative, it was a bitter-sweet discovery.
Still, I had been feeling a bit off for a couple days, and then I knew I was sick. In the past, I would have charged through praying for the best. But I realized that it was not just me I had to be concerned about. I was reminded twice that week about members of our recovery community who had died from this deadly disease and it just wasn't sitting with me not to find out for sure.
So four of us went and got tested -negative.
Thank Goodness for Small Blessings.
A reminder to myself and a piece of food for thought, this is not the type of project that depends on a single event, every action and reaction is leading us either closer or father away from loving community. I believe being responsible to the health and well-being of everyone in our community is that one step closer to where we want to be.