Take the first step to creating positive change

Interview: Discovering a Meaningful Second-Act Career
November 12, 2019

When I started, I had no idea that my idea would ignite a holiday tradition in our community.

I was just thinking about my own kids, and that I wanted them to learn about giving.

I remembered as a child with my parents dropping off a box of gifts and food for another family at our church, one that we would never meet, so that they could have a nice holiday. That made an impression on me….and now I wanted to make an impression on my kids.

A few days later, I met the Development Director of the local homeless shelter at a mixer. I started talking to her about my idea and I asked her what her organization needed. She responded that they get a lot of toy donations during the holidays, but what they desperately need is basic clothing like pajamas, socks, and underwear for the women and children residing in the shelters. 

As I noodled how to fill that need, a driving priority for me was to make sure it included a way to choose a specific family. That way my kids could know whom they were shopping for – a mom with a little girl and boy who were five and four years old, just like them. 

And with that, the Jammie Drive was born.

That first year we cobbled together an adoption website.  Then we spread the word in various ways, and to our surprise, donors showed up. The donor thank-you party was small, but the donations were sizable. And what’s more, the donors thanked me for the opportunity to share with their children the experience of selecting gifts for other women and children. They asked if we would do it again next year because they wanted to be involved again.

That was seven years ago. Each year, the drive has grown larger, to the point where we now cover 200 families across several homeless and domestic violence shelters in the East Bay Area. A powerful small team of committed souls now orchestrates this labor of love each year. The drive has become the largest source of donations for Building Futures for Women and Children, the organization that manages the shelter we serve.

The Jammie Drive has grown far beyond what I originally dreamed of and has taken on a life of its own. In fact, this year the City of Alameda has gotten involved to make it even more diverse and far-reaching to impact more families in need.

Why am I telling you this?

Because any idea that you dream up can become a movement, taking on a life of its own. Whether it is something you start related to your community, your career, your family, climate change, or anything that you believe can make a difference. It all starts with two small steps: heeding the call of the small whisper inside of your head and speaking your idea out loud to someone else.

I find myself wondering what other ideas are whispering to me that I can start noodling, that can be birthed into this world and make a difference, in large or small ways.

What might be possible if we each were to do that? 

Now is an unprecedented time in our lives. This next year is shaping up to be what some, including Sir David Attenborough in his message to world leaders, are calling a “Super Year,” meaning that what happens in the next year will impact many years to follow. There has never been a more opportune time to transform the dreams you have for your life, your community, your family and your world and take steps to start to make them happen. You will find–as I have with the Jammie Drive and having witnessed hundreds of people transform their professional lives over the years–that when you start to speak aloud to others what you care about and long to make happen, you’ll receive aid and resources beyond what you can imagine bringing your dream into tangible form.

To begin:

  • Find some time to get into a quiet space to connect with what you’ve wanted to create for yourself
  • Share it with someone you trust 
  • Take one step toward achieving your goal and see where it leads

So, what is your dream?

If you are dreaming of transforming your career or your company culture we’d love to hear from you to support you on that journey.