My Giving Story
As a child, I witnessed my parents, consistently, discretely, and humbly, sliding their folded check into the church offering plate each week. As a young adult, I came to recognize my heart hoped for my neighbor’s success as much as it did my own; alongside this fantastic notion that someone else did not need to fail for me to succeed. Through personal heartbreak, I realized that people may only act to love you for what role you can play in their lives. I had to learn to love myself. I faced the reality that I was the only person who could truly be with me, or for me, through the rest of this life. It became more important for me to love who I was, and who I desired to be than fulfill the expectations I let other people use to define me. So, digging in deep, I asked myself “What do you think? What do you believe?” In place of accepting someone else’s views as truth, I wanted to know my view. In my early thirties, I had what some would call, what I would call, an epiphany. It was a beam of light, emanating from my chest. That light was love. In that love no fear could exist, without fear, there was no hate. I have never experienced a feeling of hatred in my heart since that day.
This process of self-reflection brought to my mind, the image of being inside a butterfly’s chrysalis morphing into the true self I hoped to be. If I could experience this change from love, I felt a responsibility to help others do the same. What, for me, was my childhood storybook, The Little Engine That Could, telling me "I think I can, I know I can" is the story I wanted to share of The Brave Butterfly, saying “If you know love, you will have courage.” I needed this mantra to overcome my life’s trauma and to defeat my perception that I was barely hanging on to life by one remaining thread, a thread of hope. I chose to fight for the life I believed in and my methods of survival became elements in my story. I then started on a path leading me to dream-like adventures and life-altering individuals.
The Hobbs family’s expression of love and caring had this visual presence, not only of financial giving but they physically were a presence of giving. As I learned more about how they chose to live and the tragedies they had endured as a family, I was changed. As a dancer, I could relate to this physical love. Using my body and creative mind is how I express my emotions and thoughts. I have heard myself saying many times, "If I can make a positive difference in even one person's life the way that my dance mentor, Linda, and dancing has made in mine, I will feel successful in this life."
Attending college from 2011 to 2017, I completed degrees in anthropology and philanthropy. I followed the breadcrumbs of opportunities leading me to establish The Brave Butterfly as a nonprofit organization in 2017. My first trip to Haiti, in 2015, I worked with kindergarteners on their reading skills and taught dance lessons to students after school. I received such positive reactions from the students and within myself that I returned in 2016 and 2017. Alongside teaching dance to youth in Haiti, I look to recognize under-resourced children here at home who demonstrate a passion for dance and I strive to help them make positive connections.
The Brave Butterfly will share my story in a children’s format. I am currently writing the first of the six-book series which will be the foundation for the Brave Butterfly book club. This program will engage elementary children in developing and strengthening self-love and gaining knowledge to use in defense of obstacles or negative experiences which will arise. All book proceeds will supply Brave Butterfly with a resource for its sustainability. I will create and implement a fundraiser and write grant proposals in the effort to seek funding for its editing, illustrating and publishing costs.
My anthropological studies of nonprofits exposed me to the tragic results when nonprofits send aid without proper research and perspectives. People and communities are often left hurt instead of helped. The Seeds for Change Initiative strives to be a partner, not a provider, in an effort to strengthen individuals who desire better lives but lack the resources, education, or collaboration. I have witnessed that positive, healthy, long-term change can be established one person at a time. My long-term vision is a world where all people acknowledge they are agents of change.
I created the Love4ARTS scholarship in memory of my mother-in-law who died of complications from Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I can still see myself, at 21 years-old, stepping into her kitchen and asking “should I rent the old post office downtown to start my own dance studio?” I needed someone to tell me that my idea was good enough and that I was good enough. She enthusiastically supported the studio and its dancers for 13 years. The last year I owned my studio, our 14th annual recital was entitled “Find your Wings”, from a song by Mark Harris. These lyrics are still a part of my personal journey.
Life is too short and too precious to not simply love one another.
This is why I give. This is my #GivingStory.