As All We Are celebrates a birthday today and with my 25th Birthday only a few weeks away, I have enjoyed reflecting on the humble beginnings of our organization. In fact, I filtered through old emails and found the conversation eight years ago that started it all. With how saturated our news outlets currently are, I thought I would save you any redacted email screenshots. Ok, here is a peek…
How different would my life be today if Renee had just chosen to skip over my email as every other organization did? “Oh he is just a kid.” What if Renee was a real grammarian who could not look past me spelling “Computers” wrong? Luckily for me, Renee responded and has been supportive of my ideas ever since. She told me about her organization, the African Rural Schools Foundation, and their school in Kampala, Uganda.
Two days later I decided to launch All We Are.
When we act without hesitation our minds and hearts are connected. Sometimes the voice of reason doesn’t come from the crowd of people on shore who told you not to jump, it comes from within us.
Over the years we have been successful thanks to the support and guidance provided by Renee and countless people like her. Of course, my parents who instilled empathy and a sense of initiative in my brother, sister, and I when we were growing up. Judy Withrow, who guided me as a high-school student who could neither sit still or proof-read his papers. To my mentor, Deborah Schultz, in Cincinnati who helped All We Are grow from a newly founded non-profit to what it is today. And I must mention all the incredible friends in Rotary I have made along the way.
We have brought light, stability, and opportunities to our partner schools in Uganda. We now look half-way across the world to an All We Are family of thousands of Uganda’s children who are not much younger or different than us.
In February 2018, I will have the honor of traveling to Uganda with All We Are to meet Renee and her organization in Kampala one last time. After several successful years of working in Uganda. Renee will retire and our organizations will be merged into one vehicle of change.
These past eight years have proved challenging at times, but I have been rewarded with some of the greatest gifts of life; perspective, empathy, and passion. We find these things in every corner of the world. We have started in Uganda but who knows where this journey will take us. All We Are “The Pre-Teen” has made some incredible leaps. Where will the 16 year old All We Are end up once we learn how to drive? Should you watch out for All We Are when we turn 21? Certainly.
Wherever we end up, I hope to look around and have the same people beside me driving All We Are forward. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and for believing in a group of young people who refuse to sit idly by.
Reach down and make sure your seatbelt is fastened. We are in for the long haul.