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Those words resonated so deeply to my core before I ever really even knew what they would mean for me. After spending several years working in event planning and promotions, 2009 left me crying on my bedroom floor for something more.
That’s a story for another day. However, that story did bring me to sell my designer items, quit my job, and travel around the world for a year living out of a backpack.
I decided in 2010 that I would do anything I could to change the world. Cliche, I know.
When i was in the Philippines I fell in love with a family of nine. This family lived in the slums of Manila. I bathed one beautiful toddler named Angel. I pulled heaps of lice out of the little girls hair. I’d guess it was her first bath in weeks. I held her brother Nestlé tightly as he cried from the rat bites that covered his legs. I decided I would start an orphanage and help this family and others.
Let’s move forward to Malaysia, where I was being sent to nightclubs in Kuala Lumpur. I remember thinking – this is easy – I knew the nightlife industry and loved everything about it. But this was different. I became friends with a young girl in her mid-twenties who was taken from her family and was now being sold as a sex slave every night. Simply taking a cab home after a night out like we do here in New York was not a liberty that she had. I decided I wanted to start a movement to end trafficking.
And then there was my time spent in Africa where I met Millennia. Millennia – a beautiful girl in Kenya that wants to change the lives of the women around her – is barely able to afford an education for herself. I’ll never forget the hundreds of children that were orphaned because their parents died of HIV. They’d sit on my doorstep in the early morning just to spend time with me and hear stories of hope – a foreign concept.
To me, it all boiled down to freedom. Every single person that left an impression on my heart was not free. In one capacity or another, they could not freely be. I never had to experience this lack of freedom; I had always received it so freely. I thought, is there a way I could give it to them? And how?
In 2009 in New York City I shared this story with a group of friends, and FreelyBe began.
My friend Tim often refers to me as “a bridge person.” I never knew what that meant until now. All I want is to be a person that connects you to Millenia; that connects your company to Angel’s family. I want to raise the bar for non-profits and see them become more transparent in their movement of funds. If $20,000 is raised – I want to see the actual bags of food purchased.
I know that I can’t change the world. I know that the FreelyBe team can’t either. However, I live in New York City and well, I can’t help but boast. If any city can influence the world to make a difference – it’s this one. I mean, what other city in the world could you reach and impact nearly every culture by just a conversation on a subway ride?
So now I’m asking you – will you help me finish writing this story?