Special Thanks to:

Special Thanks: Ramp It Up contributors
Ramp It Up was a great success and we would not have been able to pull it off without the help of several great partners:
- National Car Rental...so Preston could drive
- Hot Licks Ice Cream...such good dessert
-Spirit of AK...they printed that amazing banner
-Friends Church...because a dinner in the snow is no fun
-AUP...they ran sound and A/V stuff like pros...which they are
-The Works Catering...they let us use their kitchen
- BP...sponsored the event so that all proceeds could go towards the work of Joel's Place

Thank you all!!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Business of Gratitude

     40 years ago I was born on Thanksgiving.  The doctor called me a turkey...I am still working through that.

I have been trying to write a post on Thanksgiving and Gratitude all day.  It seems appropriate with the national holiday coming up this week and having just completed our Ramp It Up Fundraiser this past Friday.  As I worked on a variety of approaches and angles for this post I came upon a profound realization: I work in the business of Gratitude.  We are usually grateful when we receive a gift that fills a need that we could not meet on our own.  Our culture frowns upon having needs, especially needs that you cannot meet with hard work and determination.  Fundraising is viewed as a necessary evil, grant writing just a little more dignified.  I had someone come up to me after our dinner and tell me what a great job that I do in begging for money.  I had mixed feelings over that statement.  On the one hand he said I did a great job.  On the other hand, the implication of begging is that there should be a better way for us to pay our bills.  I chose to take the compliment and move on.

Here's the thing.  When we are speaking about high-risk youth...from the entire community...who stand at the crossroads of their lives...who come from traumatic childhoods and are looking at adult lives that do not hold much promise...when we are talking about hundreds of young people who just need a little help to turn the direction of their lives around, that need is bigger than me.  It is bigger than me and my staff.  It is a community issue.  And it is a community issue that cannot be dealt with in the same way as other issues, because the young people at the very core have no voice.  So we have created a place where the voices of the marginalized can grow so that they can speak into the community dialogue and take ownership of their own narratives. 

So Joel's Place exists due to the generosity of this community.  This building is paid for, heated and populated due to the members of Interior Alaska declaring that our youth are important through their giving.  You give time, money, food, paper towels, lessons, video games and concerts.  You allow me to bring in the best people who call out the best attributes of these young men and women.  You pray for us. You encourage us.  You volunteer to clean up after us.  Because the need is just that valuable.

And so I find that a central piece of my job is to say "Thank You" and show you that we hold your gifts as precious and seek to use them to further this mission as best we can.  No one likes giving to a lost cause; no one wants to fund a sinking ship.  One of the central pieces to this entire blog is to show that your gift is valuable and we seek to honor it by using it for these young people who hold such promise.  Our gratitude should be expressed not only in words, but also in actions as we treasure every $10, $100 or $1,000 gift that is entrusted to us.

Joel's Place is a community endeavor.  Thank you for joining with us in raising up this generation of Alaskans.