Being the Executive Director of a non-profit was not my dream. I never intended to start a charity.
My life was full, fun, and fanciful in the 1990s boasting a happy young family, a beautiful country home, glorious gardens, and a barnyard of rescued animals. As a successful actor, coach, and interior designer, my varied careers fulfilled my creative urges as well as increased my bank balance. Life was beautiful.
Since I was a little girl, volunteering was a part of life. Giving back was ingrained in us and it continued into my adulthood as I worked in my children’s classrooms, spearheaded events for worthy organizations, lead Girl Scouts, 4-H projects, sports activities, and lectured at church. In my mind, it was other people who founded and created organizations and I had zero interest in becoming one of them.
Then my beloved Dad was diagnosed with a rare incurable cancer. He was given three weeks to live and I became his champion to save his life, scouring the world for treatment in days before the internet. With excellent medical intervention and his positive attitude, our family enjoyed his earthly company for three additional years. When I asked him on his deathbed if there was anything more I could do for him, he smiled widely to exclaim, “I am dying a happy man. I married the woman I loved, we were blessed with five great children, and I worked in a profession that was my passion. I have lived my dreams.”
Something clicked inside me at that moment. My epiphany screamed pay it forward. My Daddy was a not a college-educated man, nor was he president of anything. He read books and did on the job training to learn what he needed as a farmer and a volunteer firefighter. Dad was my hero, a man of his word, a pillar of strength, a person who helped everyone. Daddy was a giver. Although he was dying young, he felt that he had lived a life of purpose because he had loved, been loved, and fed people through his daily work.
It took many starts, stops, detours, and U-turns, but by 1999 I did pay it forward by establishing a charity, becoming a non-profit Founder and Executive Director. Be the Star You Are!®was created from my heart to empower those who needed it most—women, families, and kids.
It’s been a struggle to keep the vision alive. Thank goodness I didn’t have a crystal ball to see the many hurdles or I would never have started on this journey. Yet, now, working with teens and young adults, witnessing the slow yet steady progress to improve lives, I realize that this is the path I am meant to travel. Like my Daddy, I am a giver.
As I scroll through the hundreds of pages of volunteer sheets each filled with over a hundred names and positions, I am grateful for the experiences and the people who have grown with Be the Star You Are!® . We have planted pride, grown leaders, and reaped readers.
There comes an hour in all of our lives when we get turned upside down, meet disaster, sadness, loss, or regret face to face. This is the opportunity to step up, put a smile on our faces, and make a difference. Life offers choices. We can become bitter or we can become better. Better is best.
My Dad died many years ago in December. I miss my Dad and still hear his cheerful encouraging voice in my mind. His mentoring taught me how to live in the moment to recreate dreams, live with passion, welcome the possibilities, and see the potential in our world. His example showed me that I am enough and that each of us is unique with a special gift to share with our neighbors.
As 2019 ends and 2020 commences, I take this opportunity to thank you for being part of our collaborative community. Be the Star You Are!® volunteers are leading the way with empowerment, educational, communication, and literacy efforts that help others have a happily ever after. If you have the resources and believe in our mission, I encourage you to make a year-end tax-deductible donation, or better yet, sign up to donate regularly. You can donate via PAYPAL Giving Fund with no fees https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504 or send checks to BTSYA, PO Box 376, Moraga, California, 94556.
As we complete our first four months in our 21st year of being an all-volunteer charity with no paid staff, with your help,BTSYA will be able continue to make a difference in the years ahead for those in need. We must be doing something right to be around this long! Thank you for believing in our work to increase literacy and positive media messages.
Remember to shine brightly and smile widely. Be the star you were born to be. You can live your dreams.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!
Be a Giver! It will make you happy. 🙂
Be the Star You Are!®
PO Box 376
Moraga, California 94556