Have you ever wanted to host an event that could help change someone’s world? That’s what Kari Day set out to do recently. Applying for a grant through Health-e Giving, she took on the task of hosting a hunger project with Feeding Children Everywhere to pay for and pack 35,000 meals on October 6 in Skagit Valley, Washington. Note: That wasn’t a typo–that’s really 35,000 meals! This is an inspiring look at the process one person took to make a difference.
We met with Kari recently to discuss her process of planning and dreaming up a project this big, some obstacles and challenges she faced, and what she’s looking forward to the most. Plus, how the project comes up in every conversation and how that creates so much excitement! We’ll follow up after the event, as well, so keep your eyes peeled for Part II!
Health-e Pro: What inspired you to try this?
I think I was first inspired by the mention of this organization–Feeding Children Everywhere–on the Health-e Giving grant page. I loved the video that showed what an event looked like. It looked really fun. I thought to myself, “What a wonderful thing to do!” I began imagining what it would be like to have a community of people come together to accomplish this incredible task. Not just one organization or group do the task, but a community of people from all walks of life. We have so much division in our world right now that I thought, “Hey, this is one thing I can do to bring people together to do something awesome for others.” I wanted to see a community rally with each other and for each other.
I think the other thing that motivated me was knowing there are a lot of people right here in my own community who are struggling with food insecurity. We have kids who go hungry. We have moms and dads who are worried about when their kids will eat, and what their kids will eat. I wanted to help. I felt I was able to help because this grant made it possible. The cost scared me, but Health-e Pro wanted to come alongside me and make what seemed impossible, possible. I knew we could make something incredible happen.
How did you set out to do this? What was the process like?
My first thought: “Holy cow! What did I get myself into?! Oh my gosh, what did I just agree to do?!” And it was all my idea. I got a bit nervous about it, so the very first thing I did–after panicking–was telling everybody I knew. I started telling everybody what it was going to look like and how great it was going to be.
I kept asking myself who can I talk to? Who can help me? Who in the community knows what we should do and where we should go? And I knew we needed a facility.
I talked to my good friend; she is executive director of InFocus ministries, and does a lot of these kinds of events in the area. They have ministries all over the world, so she’s always talking to people and fundraising, and I knew she’d know of places to go. I finally settled to do it at Skagit Valley College, and I started knocking on the doors there and didn’t let them ignore me. (laughing)
How did it go from selecting the College as the place to going on a radio station?
As soon as I made a Facebook event and shared it with people, I got a message from a woman who wanted to interview me for Skagit Talks–which is a radio program they have at the College–and I said “Absolutely! “
I wasn’t trying to raise money grassroots with my neighbors. I wanted the grassroots effort to be volunteering time. It’s a project people can get behind, because we want to help kids eat that are hungry! If all you have to give is one hour on a Saturday, you can! Time is one of the easiest things to share.
Suddenly I had my event being added to a community newsletter that was going out to 3,000 people. I had people putting it on their websites. I had the community Parks and Recreation organization publicizing it. I had prominent community Facebook pages promoting it and sharing my Feeding Children Everywhere event. I ran into people who I knew and they started emailing me lists of other people they knew in the county who headed groups of volunteers. I emailed the list of people and suddenly I had an offer for a 14-minute interview on a local radio show. Small effort snowballed and it was so exciting!
What else have you learned during this process?
Because this whole project has brought me so much joy, I have felt very comfortable turning every conversation into a Skagit Valley Hunger Project / Feeding Children Everywhere conversation. I got flyers printed up and I started talking to everybody about it! I went to schools, businesses, churches, Burlington Parks and Recreation, and it started this spiderweb-y networking thing-y going on. I was even talking to the checker at the grocery store about this project. My daughter was like, “Mom! Everywhere we go, you turn it around to this hunger project!” I can turn every conversation to a Skagit Valley Hunger Project / Feeding Children Everywhere conversation. That’s what happens when you can serve like this–you feel joy!
What was your experience with the organization, Feeding Children Everywhere?
Fantastic! I love Feeding Children Everywhere! They have answered all of my questions, even when in panic mode. We had this moment where the product wasn’t going to be able to be stored at the college overnight, so I emailed Feeding Children Everywhere, they responded with, “Oh that’s no big deal.” They had the solution immediately without any stress or worry. They’ve answered any question I’ve had–and believe me, I’ve had a lot! I’ve always had someone to call or email or talk to. They’ve got all the bases covered.
How was the grant process?
As a community member wanting to make a difference, the grant process was good for me. It made me have to think through the process of what I was really doing. Why was I doing this? For what purpose? It wasn’t like, “Here’s $10,000 and there you go.” It was, “Tell us HOW you’re going to do this. Tell us WHY you’re going to do this. What’s the outcome going to be?” It helped me to think through the process and what I really wanted the outcome of this Feeding Children Everywhere event to be. That was helpful to me; the process was very thought-provoking!
Don’t forget to check in for part 2 of this blog post: After the Event!