Once a month, Lisa Klein and her two little children neatly pack baby booties, bibs and books in boutique style boxes labeled "Baby Boy" and "Baby Girl". Her 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son understand the boxes aren't for them. For the past two years, Lisa has packed more than 20,000 pounds of kids clothes for underprivileged newborns living in and around Oakland, California -- Kids that would otherwise leave the hospital without the baby basics. There's enough clothes in the 10 pound boxes for the baby's first year, gently used onesies, socks, a book, plus every box has 'something extra' such as diapers or a baby Bjorn.
"It's all about the babies," says the Oakland mother of two, "It's to keep them warm, clean and cozy no matter what's going on in their mothers' lives." The boxes are delivered to 11 county hospitals, shelters and prenatal clinics in and around Lisa's Oakland neighborhood. Lisa says she heard a story from a nurse that still can bring her to tears, "This 15-year-old girl was getting ready to leave the hospital and she asked the nurse if she could bring home the blanket, she didn't have anything to keep her baby warm." The nurse said, "I can do better than that." She gave the new mother a box, and the young girl wept.
Lisa's non-profit LovedTwice.org was born out of one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina. Stories about tens of thousands of people losing everything, from their storm swept homes to losing loved ones from mother nature's powerful blow moved Lisa to action.
"We saw that people lost everything and were camping out in front of a church. My daughter and I wanted to help. We didn't know how. We went on the internet and on Craigslist. What struck me, was that they needed baby clothes. I had so much baby clothes that my kids have outgrown, sitting in storage." She started what was supposed to be a one-time clothing drive. "I asked my family, friends and people in my community to drop off baby items on my porch so I can send a couple of small boxes to Katrina victims. I didn't expect them to tell friends of friends and for so many people to post the call to action on Craigslist." She says with big doe eyes and wide smile. "It felt great! Then one thing led to another and donations kept coming in." Hundreds of pounds of baby clothes would pile up on my porch.
She pauses. "I had baby clothes." That's when Lisa put two and two together and came up with LovedTwice.org. She started in her attic, pulling out dusty boxes and bags full of baby items. Unplanned and unanticipated, the one-shot clothing drive turned into an amazing non-profit.
More than two thousand boxes later, the busy mother of two says sometimes it's hard to keep her head above the mounds of baby items. "Last month, I had to take a step back," she says. "I came back from an extended vacation and there was 800 pounds of clothes waiting for me. I was like, I can't do this anymore. I've never thought that before... and within an hour of thinking that, I received a call from you, THANK YOU! " She says with a smile." That kept me going... thousands of kids will continue getting the baby boxes."
Her eyes lit up as she explained, "Within an hour, a woman from a local company called me and said she and said her coworkers wanted to volunteer and help pack."
Just at the moment she thought she was going to be overwhelmed, people reached out and LovedTwice got a second wind, and this time a good one. When I heard how my phone call - just that phone call - had come at just the right time, a chill tingled through my body and goosebumps made the hair on my arms stand straight up. I told Lisa, lately, I've been feeling overwhelmed too, orchestrating my non-profit, www.GoInspireGo.com, which makes these videos possible. I teach full time at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and I teach one class at my alma mater, the University of San Francisco. I also produce online videos for San Francisco stores and companies and I'm writing a children's book... And of course, I blog for the HuffPo. Recently I've felt like I really need a break -- I began to wonder: how long I could continue my irratic schedule of staying up till 3am and waking up at 5am to get all my work done. I began feeling like a college student who stays up late and gets up early to cram for a test. This test, however, was a real test in life. A test of balancing life, work and play. Balance. Juggle. Balance. I was spending more time with my MacBook than with my family and friends. I'm still learning.
I realized that sharing Lisa's story and the inspirational stories and story ideas that my viewers are sending in continue to inspire me and my amazing team of GIG'sters to continue building upon our global platform to for people to see and share inspirational stories. It's also humbling to see folks reaching out to help the featured people in the stories. In all of the 31 years of my life, I've never felt such joy, pure joy through this project. I've made life-long friends and learned so much about the spirit of service and how the real gifts in life aren't always tangible and counted in dollars and monetized.
It's amazing how timing and the world works. I inspired Lisa and she inadvertently uplifted my spirits in return and now, the underprivileged kids will continue receiving help through LovedTwice.org and I too have caught my second wind to keep doing what I'm doing. What you give to the world, you get back 10-fold. When you see it happen and you see it keep happening, well, there it is. So what I ask you, is -- What have you done to improve someone else's life? If the answer is "I don't know," then get crackin'! I wish I could bottle up all the life lessons and joy created from www.GoInspireGo.com -- When I was laid off from my TV reporting job last December, I frantically started looking for jobs in industries that I wasn't even interested in. After lots of meditation and countless conversations, I decided to stop looking for a job and wanted to dedicate this year to service. That was what that little voice inside me was telling me. I'm glad I listened. One conversation led to another, which led to a YouTube site, which led to a blog, which turned into the website itself: www.GoInspireGo.com Some people thought I was crazy, many blank stares ensued. I always dreamed of being a TV reporter in a major market. Check. Then I wanted to report for PBS. Check. After ten years reporting the local news and for some magazine shows, I still felt empty. But after creating Go Inspire Go and seeing how many people we've inspired, I feel like I'm just where my life's path is supposted to be, in service and volunteerism. I invite you to check out my inspirational website that uses social media to create social change. And as Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." I'm not telling you to give to the world. But if you dare to, it just might give you back more than you could have ever dreamed. At least that's what I've learned through my experiences!
CALL TO ACTION--GO INSPIRE GO NEEDS YOUR HELP:
In the spirit of inspiration and children around the world,
Go Inspire Go is collecting inspiring and compassionate kids stories. Please e-mail them to us below!
Please comment here on the blog and you can find out more about Toan Lam at http://www.goinspirego.com. Click on the YouTube link and check out the stories his team created, and videos created by viewers.
Contact Toan at: email@example.com