Monday, August 29, 2011

A message from our YPAC Chair, Karen Banks

So ready for a story that’s sad, happy, amazing and a little lucky? So here we go……
My back story might be a little sad to some but it lets you understand how I became the type of person who would be willing to clean, paint, take out the trash and do any other activity to help such a special cause. My mother passed away when I was at the ripe age of 9. This was upsetting but it has allowed me to become the person I am today for which I am grateful. I live life to the fullest and giving back is something that my mom deeply believed in – she almost become a nun she was so giving! Needless to say, I believe in giving back to the community and it just makes you a better/friendlier/nicer/karmic person. Period.
I became involved with the amazing organization Family House because a friend of mine was volunteering for school credit at this non-profit I had never heard of. He would go and volunteer at these houses doing cleaning, chores etc., and I thought to myself why would you want to go and clean and organize someone else’s home? I don’t even like to clean mine! So he went along volunteering at these houses for awhile and then he asked if I wanted to volunteer at this event - Cabernet for Connoisseurs back in February 2009. I didn’t know what this was and at the time I had a prior commitment so I couldn’t go. (I learned later that it was my loss for not attending this event because it is quite remarkable, more on that later.) So finally! He asked once more with two of our other friends to volunteer at Supper club for an event. I thought to myself volunteering at a club with drinks and people and partying? That’s awesome count me in! We all agreed to spend our evening volunteering, even though we didn’t really know what we were volunteering for.
We showed up and met Amy Lenz, she was friendly and very excited to see her four new volunteers. She gave us a rundown of what Family House actually is all about (besides AMAZING!) and we set up the infamous Family House posters, blue light pens, bags and we were ready to go. The doors open and the party goers start flooding in and forking over cash to us. Say what!! All of these people, 100-150 were giving us cash! Generally $10 and $20 a person – to a charity! The back story is that Bobby “The Bunny” – a long time volunteer and advocate for Family House rented out the club and asked his friends and family to make their club entrance fee a donation to Family House. Now, I, going to clubs and evening activities for quite some time have never witnessed individuals excited to shell out money for club entrance fees. It is just unheard of! And here people were giving us oodles and oodles of donations for this wonderful cause! Something special was up in here and I knew it right away.
Long story short as well as clichéd, this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. I became part of something that was bigger than myself and helped more families than I could ever hope to imagine. I jumped at the chance to join the young professionals group that was just being created at Family House by Amy Lenz and Greg Mora.  This group was my age and had two purposes: 1) obviously raise much needed funds for Family House – it costs a lot to provide FREE housing to 107 people a night! (Imagine your hotel bill for one room for one night! Geez!) and 2) Spread the word to young people to get involved and become lifelong fans of Family House. Life is about giving back and this is the perfect opportunity to give to those who desperately need it financially, emotionally, and physically.
In short, your take away from this should be to do anything: yell, scream at the top of your lungs, run through the streets and tell each and every person you know that Family House is the most impressive, giving and comforting home away from home families with children who are seriously ill could be. We need your help in any way you can provide through volunteer efforts, financial donations or just spreading this message. I am truly lucky to be part of an organization that makes miracles happen every day.
Karen Banks
YPAC Chair – Young Professionals Advisory Council

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