November 17, 2008


I had a really tough time turning 25 years old. 

Looking back, I have no idea what my mindset was at that time in my life. I guess I thought I was getting old. The fact that my little sister told me that I was “a quarter of the way to death” probably didn’t help. (My response, in my fragile state: “Yeah….if you live to be 100!”)

One thing I do remember was a piece of advice that I received from a friend of mine. “Take the focus off of yourself,” she said. “Put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

That’s when I got involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and kick-started my mid-20s in grand fashion.

My friend was right. Even though I was attending the world’s biggest pity party, there were other people, groups, and causes that were struggling with a lot more than a 25th birthday.

That’s what I want everyone to remember as Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, and the economic turmoil in this country is causing EVERYONE to have a metaphorical 25th birthday.

I would like to echo the advice I was given exactly nine years ago: “Take the focus off of yourself and put the emphasis on someone less fortunate than you. Give back.”

I know things are tight, but they are tight for EVERYONE.

If you’re a middle-class family of four that is feeling the brunt of the economic crunch, how do you think a single mom – who is working two jobs to support her three kids AND her brand new grandchild – is doing? What about the dad in the exact same situation? (The only difference with him...there is good chance that he was just laid off.)

While it might simply be a tighter belt for you, it’s a daily punch to the gut for them.

From now until Christmas I will be sharing unique ways you can remove that focus from yourself and give back during this holiday season.
(If you have any causes that tug at your heartstrings – I would encourage you to share those as well in the Comment section at the bottom of this blog.)

My first opportunity to share has a special place in my heart, and there is a tremendous opportunity for you to help to help deliver some Christmas magic.

e-Partners in Giving, my new company, is hosting the inaugural Safe Haven Christmas Extravaganza at Fort Worth’s Presbyterian Night Shelter. Safe Haven is the mentally ill wing of the homeless shelter. It houses 20 residents that I have come to know very well through my volunteer efforts over the last seven months.

We are prepared to throw them a genuine holiday bash on Dec. 22nd – with food, music, decorations, and gifts.

It’s the gift aspect of the Extravaganza where there is a fantastic opportunity to briefly take the focus off of yourself.

I am asking 15 people who read this blog to adopt a Safe Haven client this holiday season. We have set a price point of $35 that will help us buy one present and stuff one stocking for each resident. (We’re only asking for 15 because five people have already generously offered to support our Extravaganza.)

Each resident submitted a Christmas list – and it would break your heart to read what they asked for. You would think they would have wished for the stars, but they were all very practical. Here are a few samples:

• Wal-Mart gift card
• Tennis shoes
• A coat
• Perfume and cologne

Some were a little more “over-zealous,” asking for a radio, CD player, or a watch, but there was not one single outrageous request.

One gentleman simply asked for, “To stay sober; Give to others; Recover Physically.”

They all need so much, but they all want so little. That makes me smile.

Our stocking stuffers will include things like socks, toiletry items, candy, and other items that Santa would leave at our house on Christmas morning.

In regards to how you want to handle the gifts and stocking stuffers – we want to make it as easy on you as possible. If you would like to go shopping yourself – that’s awesome. (We will supply you a list and send you on your way.) If you want to give us the $35 and let us take care of the rest – we can do that, too.

Just send me an e-mail and let me know.

I will go ahead and say thank you to everyone in advance. I only send this blog to a certain number of people – each one of you has the heart and spirit to answer the bell, re-shift the focus off of yourself, and help us give back. Your support and generosity is appreciated more than you will ever know.

I encourage you to refer back to the blog on a regular basis – read people’s comments about other ways to get involved, and share your stories about giving back this holiday season.

November 9, 2008


Advice: Don’t get behind in your blogging.

It’s been several weeks since I sat down and penned a post. (If it weren’t for a couple extensive airplane trips, it probably would have been a lot longer.)

The reason why I encourage you not to fall behind – it’s borderline painful when you start again. It’s a lot like running. You can be burning up the pavement for 20 miles a week, but if you take significant time off (three or four weeks), a 3-mile run seems like cruel punishment.

The underlying question – in both instances: Where do I start?

I’ve decided that small, easily digestible nuggets of thoughts and information are the best ways to ease back into this new-found hobby (when is comes to running…a lot of walking tends to help):


We continue to move forward with our start-up process. We are finalizing our web site and have already started developing partnerships within the death-care industry.

Reminder: We want to make memorial giving as easy as possible.

We attended the National Funeral Directors Association meeting in Orlando and had a VERY positive response in regards to what we’re trying to accomplish.

Besides developing partnerships, we continue product development and have started doing research on securing additional capital.

I recently had an initial sit-down with the Small Business Development Center in Tarrant County. I probably should have had that meeting months ago, but I’m still excited about working with its advisors.


I have marked several things off my “Attacking Life” list of 101 things in 1001 days. (I’ve also tried to document each “accomplishment” with a photo.)

Here are some of the items that I have been able to cross off (
to see the entire list click here):
  • No. 29 (Help build Habitat
    Humanity House)
  • No. 43 (Participate in “Yoga Flow in the Japanese Garden”)
  • No. 49 (Vote in a Presidential Election)
  • No. 94 (Watch a football game at the “Horseshoe”)
Here are some 
of the items that I’ve started:
  • No. 27 (Accumulate 1,000 volunteer hours). I have already posted 82 hours in 96 days – that puts me just a tad behind schedule
  • No. 45 (Participate in regular Bible Study). I’m in the middle of a men’s fellowship at my church. The course is entitled, “Winning at Work and Home.”
  • No. 93 (Read 200 books). I have read/listened to seven books to date. I’m currently reading “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman and starting to listen to "Art of War" by Sun Tzu. (Are audiobooks cheating?)
Here are some of the items that I see coming down the tracks (I’m anticipating them to be crossed off before the end of 2008):
  • No. 7 (Attend a Bikram Yoga class)
  • No. 36 (Make Christmas cookies for my neighbors)
  • No. 74 (Start customer service blog)

I was amazed at the Facebook Wall Posts after Obama was officially projected the 44th President of the United States. What amazed me more than anything was the significant discord and anger amongst my “friends.”

Words of disgust and hate overshadowed an historic day in the United States of America.

I made only one Post: “Drew hopes this

election inspires change. One man was elected president – WE must be the change, though.”

I don’t pretend to know if Barack Obama is going to be a good president, but I will say that America is paying attention right now.

As I was sitting in the Philadelphia airport, our new President-elect was holding his first news conference since the election. I won’t say everyone in the terminal was reading the closed captions on the TV monitors, but there were a significant number of people glued to that television.

Ironically enough, as I was scanning the crowd – wondering how many people would be paying attention if George W. Bush was holding a news conference – I saw a teenage girl walk by wearing her trendy Obama T-shirt.

As I watched his election-day speech from Grant Park, I said this to my wife, “I can only pray that he is able to build on this excitement that he is generating in this country. Right now, he has tremendous momentum working in his favor.”

I was checking in at the Pittsburgh airport recently, I heard a conversation between a customer and a ticket agent that stopped me cold.

The customer was a middle-aged gentleman with a mental disability. When the gate agent asked how he was doing, he responded in the most genuine tone you can imagine. “Wonderfully great,” he said with a smile. (It was almost like he was thrilled she actually inquired.)

I couldn’t help but smile, too.

When the ticket agent was assisting me, we briefly discussed the dialogue between her and the gentleman. We both agreed that if anyone asked either one of us the rest of the day, we’d both be “wonderfully great.”

As I walked away from the ticket counter, I wondered why everyone can’t always choose to be “wonderfully great.”

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