A Day To Remember…Forever

There are those days that you will never forget…buying your 1st car, the first time you had…well you know, your wedding day, the birth of your children, and very select other days.  Personally, I was fortunate enough to experience one of those unforgettable days yesterday thanks to A Safe Haven in Chicago.  A Safe Haven is a foundation that helps people aspire, transform and sustain their lives as they transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency with pride and purpose.Banner ASH

Yesterday, A Safe Haven hosted the nation’s largest 5K run to end homelessness and Chicago’s largest veteran Stand Down.  When I signed up to volunteer for this event last week, I knew that what I was doing was for a great cause.  However, what I did not know was that I would be taking my 12 year old daughter with me to help volunteer, and that would change everything for me.

The Homeless injured vetevent featured approximately 5,000 runners/walkers who were running/walking at 8 am on a Sunday morning to help end homelessness.  Following the run, the event featured approximately 1,000 veterans who were either homeless or in a dire situation causing them to need help.  A Safe Haven provided both a duffel bag and a backpack full of clothes and toiletries, a pair of boots, a hat and a box of deodorant for each and every veteran who attended. My 12 year old daughter and I were assigned to loading the trucks with these items, unloading the trucks, and then delivering the items to the final destination.  We loaded and unloaded trucks for nearly 5 hours straight, and please keep in mind these are pretty heavy bags and backpacks completely filled with items.

IMAG0313I could not believe the way that my daughter handled this entire day.  Please keep in mind that she is 12 years old.  I had her up at 4 am to get to the event by 5:30.  Not only did she not complain, but she completely embraced this entire experience. She was lifting bag after bag after bag and smiling the entire time.  She was working as hard as I have ever seen her work, and she was motivated like I have never seen.  She absolutely LOVED knowing that what she was doing was helping others in the way that it was.  She interacted with the veterans and hand delivered items to them, while she engaged in conversations with them.  It was such a beautiful thing to see! When it was time to go, she did not want to leave at all, and she talked about the experience just about the whole way home during our hour and a half ride.  In the past, my daughter has been involved in buying Christmas gifts for children in need, but this is the first time that she was really actively involved in serving others on this level, and it was an amazing experience.

10534175_10204276816701491_8784133709343577717_nTo be able to serve others for such an incredible cause with your child for the first time is a type of joy and fulfillment that every parent should experience.  To watch your 12 your old daughter, and let’s be real, she is 12.  At that age, in their minds, the world revolves around them.  To see her being so selfless and so giving, and loving every minute of it, and to be able to share that with her, is something I will never forget.  All of us who are physically able need to give more to those who are starving for our help.  The gift of life is about serving others, it is that simple, and we should never forget that.  Let’s start our children knowing this and understanding this at an early age.  Kids’ minds are like silly putty and they can be molded.  It is our jobs as parents to expose them to what is really important in life so that their minds can be molded into caring, loving, giving, selfless people.  Take my word for it from personal experience, by doing so, you will create days that you will remember…forever.

-The Sales Leader

If you would like to learn more about A Safe Haven, please visit www.asafehaven.org. for more information.

Parenthood, The Greatest Joy on Earth!

I feel so lucky and so blessed to have the children that I do, and I have to tell you, I LOVE MY KIDS!!!  I have an 11 year old daughter and a son who will be turning 8 next week.  We have two parties scheduled for my son, a family party and a friend party.  His family party is at our house this weekend, and his kid party is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle party next weekend at a Karate/Martial Arts facility.  I have to tell you, I am so excited for my son as I get excited every year, twice a year for each child’s birthday.  To watch them celebrate, open gifts and be so excited, that is what makes me so excited!

Me and My Kids

Me and My Kids

I attribute this excitement to my kids and my relationship with them.  I am fortunate enough to be in a situation where I can spend a great deal of time with my kids, and with their desire to be around me as much as I desire to be around them, I take advantage of that.  When my daughter was in swimming, I was an announcer at her meets.  I have coached my son’s soccer and basketball teams.  I take Karate with my kids just about every Thursday night.  We vacation together multiple times per year.  I volunteer at my kids’ schools.  I have attended almost every event, concert, recital, game, parent-teacher conference, parent night, etc. that our kids have ever had.  Now, I must say that I am blessed with a loving and caring wife who shares the same desire as I do to be such a large part of our kids’ lives, and we could not do it without each other.  I apologize if it sounds like I am boasting.  That is not the point of this.  The point is that, as you hear from just about every parent that has ever existed, your children are not young forever and their desire to be around their parents diminishes as time goes on.  I know that the years that our children will WANT us around this much are limited, and our time is slowly running out.

Velpel Family at Disney

Our children need our love, our guidance and our support when they are at this young impressionable age.  The quantity and quality of time that we spend with our children will leave a lasting impression on them, and on us as parents.  This time of life helps mold who we are, and who we will be in the future.  I want my children to remember me as a father who was there for them and made time for them, because quite honestly to me, parenthood is the greatest joy on earth!

-The Sales Leader

Vision of Hope

IMAG0235I went to a fundraiser for a friend this weekend.  The charity is the “Vision of Hope”.  The reason for the fundraiser is that a friend of mine’s mother has developed a very rare illness.  The woman with the illness is 50 years old, I believe.  I hope I am getting all of the details right.  Within the last couple of years she lost her sight within about a week’s time.  She woke up one morning not being able to see as well, and then over a few days, it got progressively worse.  Now, to the point, where she is legally blind.  She has now within the last few months developed cancer that has spread to a couple of different organs, and her prognosis is not real good at this point.  It is now a matter of extending her life rather than trying to save her life, and I am not exactly sure how much time she has left.

The reason for this blog is to share with you how a community has come together to help her and her children.  It is encouraging to see a community come together to help those in need.  In today’s world of war and evil, it is nice to see that humanity exists in so many of us.  There was a bike rally that included about 100 bikers, along with other friends and family.  This was the second fund raiser for this person this year, and both were a huge success.  It is refreshing to see the selflessness that so many people exhibited here.

So, I will say two things that you should take away from this:

1.  Know that there is still good in the world and life really is about people helping people in time of need.

2.  Go home and kiss your loved ones and tell them that you love them, because you never know when something like this could happen to you or someone you love.  Take the time to appreciate what you have and who you are with, life is not forever, so make sure to make the most of today and every day you have on this earth moving forward.

To learn more about Cindy or the Vision of Hope Foundation visit: Cindy’s Vision of Hope Site

-The Sales Leader

safe_image