Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

About a year ago I founded a non-profit organization “The Bucket List Foundation.” This foundation started after the responses I received from a post I did in remembrance of a dear friend who lived at the nursing home I worked at. All I did was throw out an idea I had to help make the lives better for our oftentimes forgotten elderly. This post helped unite the founding members of the foundation. The founding board members changed a bit but the core members came together and everything started to take off. At first we were going to apply for the Pepsi Refresh Grant to get us off the ground but Nicole and I were concerned of the impact that would have on us come tax time. We decided to start from the ground up, and build from there. I must admit we were a bit awkward. Despite this we started to make some real progress, until recently where we hit a major hurdle in our development.

Our last meeting was months ago. The end result of this meeting was we were going to figure out how to break up the writing of our business plan. Nicole was put in charge of researching everything that went into writing a successful business plan, once completed she was to delegate sections to each member to complete before our next meeting. I do not think we were fully prepared for the sheer scope of this project. In reality we had just set ourselves up for failure because this was far more than one person could handle by themselves, when you added in Nicole’s workload the task was almost impossible. Time went by with no progress being made. The days turned into weeks, and the weeks into months. I was afraid with all the time which had passed the dream of this foundation just sort of sizzled out. I honestly thought the foundation had died completely.

I ended up talking to our president to see if she was still interested, and she confirmed that both her and her father were still very much interested in making this dream come true. She sent out an e-mail to all the board members to make sure we were still on board, and to see about scheduling our next meeting. I responded to the e-mail letting everyone know I was still interested in proceeding and advised we should either get together or brainstorm via e-mail on how to get us back on track. I am sorry to say I have not received a response from anyone.

I am a bit discouraged by the lack of response. I am worried that our first hurdle may end up being the last hurdle we ever face. I feel without the unity of the board this foundation may be dead in the water. This is a sad day for many people because the foundation could have made a difference and changed so many of our aging population’s lives. I wonder how we can proceed if we cannot all pull together. Could I place an ad in the paper saying we are looking for board members to join our foundation to fill the spaces of the departed? I think one thing which caused this foundation to falter after hitting this bump was the lack of members on the board. We were a group of five individuals trying to accomplish a daunting task, and perhaps this task was too much for just five people to handle.

I truly hope The Bucket List Foundation is not dead. I know this foundation would make a difference in so many peoples lives, and if this doesn’t get off the ground than it is a shame this idea rested in my head instead of someone who could have made it a reality. When we were chugging along I kept thinking of all the peoples lives we were going to change for the better because of this. Now I am afraid I will be thinking how many people’s lives we didn’t change because we just kind of gave up.

I have spoken in posts recently about failure and I feel this is yet another example of failure on my part. I think back and if I would have been more organized and vocal as a leader perhaps this foundation would still be moving forward instead of being stuck in the mud. If you want my opinion; we need more members on the board to make this thing work. I have honestly thought then as I do now that we require members with specialties in the hurdles we are trying to overcome. How can you ask a group of people to come together and figure out how to write a solid business plan? The answer is you can’t. I place full blame on myself for allowing this thing to die down. Like I said earlier I hate that this idea was wasted on me. All I am able to do now is do what I can in hopes the individuals still interested come back together. If we are able to ignite a spark and move towards finding the right people to join the board; I feel confident this thing of ours can come back to life.

If you are interested in knowing more about the foundation you can check it out under “The Bucket List Foundation” in the categories drop down menu. I think some posts may be missing. If so let me know and I can point you in the right direction or give you more information.

Why do we toss aside our elderly? Have we forgotten they have sacrificed their lives for our wellbeing? It seems once they stop paying taxes and start collecting Social Security and using Medicaid the government turns their backs on them. The government does this by budget cuts which heavily impact the nursing homes our loved ones are in. We as sons and daughters turn our backs on the very people who sacrificed their lives to raise us by sending them to said facilities suffering from these same budget cuts. Is this a product of a lapse in our ethics, or a product of the society we have created? Why do we value our elderly the least of all demographics? I think the answer is a bit of both.

In our society the value we place on money rules supreme, once you can no longer contribute to the machine you are forgotten. Fewer and fewer companies offer pensions, which most of our elderly counted on along with social security to survive. We have shifted to retirement funds to provide this cushion, but not everyone is able to maintain such a retirement fund. The money involved in caring for an elderly parent is crippling to a son or daughter. Their only financial option is sending them to a nursing home.

The other thing we place a high value on is time; because we work more than we relax our time is like gold. To care for a parent who can no longer care for themselves is not only expensive, but it is also time consuming. For many people to properly care for them it would require them to make a choice between their career and their responsibility to their parents. Many people cannot sacrifice their career, so the best option is to throw them into a nursing home. This time commitment begins to reflect in the number of visits residents receive. I would imagine at first the visits would be aplenty, but as time passes the visits become less and less. There are residents here who never receive visits from their loved ones.

My out look and concern over this problem has changed, since I started to work here. What I see here is heartbreaking, and I fear my parents may be sent to such a place. Prior to being employed here I gave very little thought into what kind of quality of life our elderly have. I was unaware of the promised money to facilities by our government only to be the first victim of budget cuts. I had very little concept of the level of care they were receiving. I gave very little thought into how our culture views our elderly, or what happened when they could no longer care for themselves. I never thought what my decision would be if my wife or parents could no longer care for themselves. I do know that the option to send them to a nursing home would be the last one explored.

This is why “The Bucket List Foundation” is so important. We are able to provide residents with the necessary level of human interaction by providing volunteers who are willing to visit at least once a week to truly give them basic human needs. We also would be able to provide the means for them to make a life long wish come true. In fulfilling their “bucket lists” they may be able to pass on with less regrets. Finally we will ensure no one dies alone. I would imagine the dying process is a trying time in our lives, sometimes the hardest thing we can endure. Nobody no matter how many bridges they have burned deserves to go through this process lying in an empty room. Perhaps if there was an elderly daycare center perhaps this would allow us to still work and care for our loved ones. There may already be such a program; if not perhaps the foundation will look into such an option.

I am not saying this issue is as cut and dry. I am sure there are facilities that provide the best care they can within their means. I am sure there are people out there who choose their parents over their own personal wants and needs. I imagine these examples are not the norm.

I do know this is a passion of mine. I think people need to take the time to contemplate the various things in our society. If this was done with this and many other issues perhaps these social maladies could be cured. We are often to busy and to self-absorbed to look at the issues perpetrated on our fellow man. I hope in my lifetime I am able to see a shift in this mode of thinking.

Last week I saw a picture of Dale and I, at our company barbeque. I was filled with such loss and sorrow. I quickly looked away, and had to compose myself. I did not want to tear up around my co-workers. I saw a huge smile on his face, and remembered how happy our short time together was.

There was not a day that went by he was not coming in and out of my office. He had a routine where he would go to specific places throughout the nursing home. He would stop and visit many of the staff, and everyone who was touched by this great man, were filled with such joy when he was around. He had the most wonderful  laugh and smile, which always brightened my day. I can truly say he was the brightest point in my day. Even after five and a half months later, I still wish he would come to my office to sit and listen to music with me.

Dale was the most enlightened man I have ever met. He achieved what many Taoist strive for, living and thinking like a child. It is children who are so peaceful and simple in their outlook on life. They have not yet been filled with the propaganda of the American Dream, and corporate brainwashing. They hold no judgment, and find joy in the simple things. Dale had reached these achievements. He lived for the simple joys in life, like his 10:30 soda, and 1:30 commissary trip. These things along with his simple routines made him happy.

When he came into my office he would sit down and listen to music. He was amused with my computer and often asked me to show him pictures of various things like cars he used to own. He was funny to talk to, because he was so random in his thought process. He had a mental illness which caused him to be so random, and OCD about his daily activities. I miss our conversations.

Like all my sad emotions I choose to not deal with them. This was particularly hard because I just thought he would be around forever. His death was so quick, he was diagnosed with cancer and it spread so fast. He just kept on deteriorating. When he could no longer walk on his own he spent much of his time in bed. I can’t even imagine how hard that was for him.

He had one wish; to not die alone. I would bet he was afraid of the unknown, and wanted someone to be by his side. I feel guilty and wish I was here to fulfil his wish. His passing is my reason for starting The Bucket List Foundation. The foundation will do many good things for our elderly, but one of our main goals is to ensure no one dies alone. Perhaps I feel if I can provide others with this important human needs, I can shed this intense guilt I feel over letting my best friend down. I call him my best friend because I have never met a friend which cared for me so unconditionally.

I think another reason I do not deal with my sad feelings over this is because I want the wonderful memory of knowing him to never leave my mind. I am not only afraid of having to deal with the sadness over his death, but I am also afraid to have his memory fade.

Sunday March 21st 2010, was the third meeting of the founding board members of the foundation. The meeting went very well, but still many things need to be figured out. The main thing we accomplished was fine tuning the Pepsi Refresh Grant. We need to add pictures and video, which is our final hurdle.

This grant is our seed money, and is very important in jump starting the foundation. We need to make sure we are putting a good product out there, and market the best we can, with the resources we have. This grant is our source of life.

I received an e-mail from one of the founding board members Rebekah Elling, and she was able to get some of our local ABC news anchors on board, to assist us with the video. This is fantastic news, what amazed me the most is how quickly they responded. I feel this is a positive, because it shows our cause is a good one.

I am attempting to secure our local sports teams in Minnesota; to see if they would be willing to endorse us, or allow us to do a video of team members endorsing our cause. The waiting list to have your application reviewed is six-eight weeks, which means it will not be ready in time for our April submission. I feel if we are able to secure some more public interviews i.e. newspapers, or radio stations we could increase our exposure. Since we are starting out in Minnesota with plans to grow to other states; I would imagine most votes would come from our state.

There are other issues which need to be addressed. I think if each member came up with their own agenda then we could combine into one for our next meeting we should be able to address all issues. I am truly grateful for the founding members of the board. I have stated before my gratitude, but I can never say it enough the group of people we have assembled is a rock star group of people.

As we grow we need to recruit an attorney and media specialist to join our board. Rebekah’s father is interested in joining the board; I think he would be a fantastic addition to the board. His skills in the art of building websites is invaluable.

If you have any questions regarding the foundation; you can reach me at thephilosophyofme@yahoo.com

On Saturday March 6th the founding board members of The Bucket List Foundation met at my house. It is so exciting to be apart of something that can improve so many peoples lives. I had an idea posted in on this blog, and soon after the foundation has become a reality, it truly is amazing. In my mind I thought this would take two months to get going, I was wrong. This could take a good year before we are up and running. If we get that grant, it would happen sooner.

We were supposed to submit our application to Pepsi in March, so we can obtain our grant. We were not ready, so we are going to shoot for April. We are trying to recruit some local celebrity or sports figure to do a small video for us. We are going to use the video for our application, and post it on You Tube. The board members were given access to the grant application, and we are all going to answer the question, then on our next meeting we will combine ideas.

Bekah came up with a great mission statement, which sums up our foundation very well. I really think we assembled a passionate dedicated group. Due to the amount of legal work involved we need to recruit an attorney to join the board. I also think we may need to add a sales professional, so we can attempt to sign corporate sponsors.

After the meeting Heide, my wife and I were brainstorming, and we thought of starting our own group home. This would be no normal group home we would do it Bucket List style. The residents would have 1-1 dedicated attention, rooms designed and arranged to their liking, and of course they would have a chance to fulfil their bucket lists. I am not sure how all of that would work out, we will discuss at our next meeting.

If you want to know more about the foundation you can reach me at thephilosophyofme@yahoo.com

Sorry if this post is choppy, I just had a root canal, and I am still a little fuzzy from the gas.

In five days from now the four founding members of “The Bucket List Foundation” will be holding our inaugural meeting. I am very excited about this for many reasons, but today I would like to focus on one aspect of my excitement. Those of you who either know me personally, or have become regular readers, are aware what my poetry book is all about, and how I suffer from a mental illness. I am battling this illness with the healing power of doing for others. I have found when I am able to live by the motto “how may I serve” I feel much better inside. This is not an easy motto to follow especially considering the “me first” society we have been raised in. The days I can follow this are the days where I have the least amount of stress; which in turn keeps my MI in check. 

I am basking in the idea of getting this thing going, and just thinking about how many lives will be improved if we were able to get this foundation off the ground. The thought of doing for others, assists in elevating my moods. I would imagine if the concept of doing the idea is uplifting; logic would conclude if it came to fruition then my moods should consistently level out.

I look at this foundation, as not only the ability to enrich people’s lives, but also to put past demons to rest. I have made more mistakes in my life than I care to count, perhaps dedicating my life to serving others I can begin to forgive myself. The major fuel for my depression is self loathing; perhaps this can mend the emptiness inside of me. I am naturally a selfish person. It is difficult to concisely put others first. Like I stated above I think I am a product of the “me first” society. I have such entitlement issues it is simply unbelievable.

The Tao teaches us first you need to learn it, then you need to think it, then you will live it. I hope this concept is true in my case. I have learned it, I have thought about it, yet I am unable to live it 100% of the time. I have more difficulty thinking of others when I am depressed because all I want to do is seclude myself and sleep.   

I am fully aware the odds are stacked against us. There may be a real possibility that time and effort is put into this project only to result in failure. Where will my mind wonder if this happens? I have the utmost faith in our cause. I have confidence in the people around me. In my mind failure is not an option; a possibility maybe, but not an option. Only time will tell if this dream will become a reality, until then I am going to trust the Tao that everything will fall in its divine order. Today I choose to embrace healing by helping.