So I’ve been really, really busy the past week or so. So busy in fact that I spent most of mother’s day glued to the computer trying to finish a presentation for review while Aaron took the kids to his mother’s house. That actually sort of happened by accident and involved the threat to Little that if she didn’t swallow her parasite medication, poor girl has worms, she would have to stay home with mommy until she did rather than go to Beema’s house. At the last minute she finished, gagged, ran out the door and they all took off leaving me… with time to work, which was sorely needed. Happy mother’s day to me.
But the presentation is starting to come together. It’s all for something called a Quarterly Entrepreneur Forum, which a guy on our board invented and put together, where we invite a bunch of successful entrepreneurs to a networking type of meeting, and then tell them about our idea to create a self-sustaining orphanage model using entrepreneurship and various adaptable business models such that orphanages can support themselves by running businesses that employ the entire community and the children learn, by growing up in such an environment the principles of business management. That way as adults they can support themselves through business. (website revisions with more detail coming soon.)
So my bit is to present the history of The Charis Project thus far and show cute slides of the kids. I can do that. But last night during our planning meeting, my friend Karen, who very graciously lent her considerable skills to help us make the presentation better, suggested that we put bios of all the people presenting at the back of the executive summary to lend some credibility to our presentation.
It’s a good idea. There are a lot of cool people on our board and cooperating with this; like William, who played the best chess player in the world when he was 15 and it took 4 hours for the guy to beat him. He launches web and e-commerce companies in his sleep. Doug, who it seems at least once a year a company that he consulted for goes from private to the Forbes top 100 list. And I’ll give you a hint, they are closer to the top of the list than the bottom. Then there is the guy who founded Opportunity International, that really famous micro-finance non-profit. There is a lawyer who represents huge businesses…. even Karen got her degree at Yale… It’s amazing to me how smart these people all are, not mention the cool things they have done
Then there’s me. I have to put in a presenters bio too. So I’ve been thinking about what my bio would say by comparison… you know, all my great achievements and the like.
Carrien Blue dropped out of a BA program. She made the grievous mistake of taking the advice of a guidance counselor who didn’t even know her and talked her out of any sort of academic post secondary pursuits based on the fact the her grades in music were higher. Though she had A’s in everything and was in the honors program. So she applied for and won a bunch of scholarships and went off to learn how to be an opera singer and a concert pianist. She was the first person in her faculty to be approved as a double major, on two instruments.
She was unable to make herself care enough about music to devote her life to it, when there were so many other important things to do besides entertain people. Knowing she was headed for a lifetime of hanging out with musicians all the time and already somewhat turned off by the way her profs started to clumsily hit on her after they consumed a glass or two of champagne following concerts, she had a bit of a crisis and quit, determined to figure out what she really wanted to do, and who she really was.
(She used to be good at music, but it’s been a decade since she really practiced, so she’s not sure if she is anymore.)
She had a number of experiences and relationships, not romantic, that were very educational. She spent a year traveling with a group in a sort of bohemian mission type of existence. She learned a LOT about herself and others. She was going to go to Nepal and work in an orphanage there, but there was this guy, and he had a great smile and he loved her. So she married him instead.
They made plans to move to Thailand and work in the Bangkok slums with drug addicts and trafficking victims. But then she got pregnant and he decided to do a master’s degree in Canada instead.
While he was in school Carrien was being a mother. Which was really the most worth doing thing she has tried and the most worth noting. But, at home taking care of 2 little kids she chafed. It was difficult to take care of them knowing what she knew about all the kids out there who didn’t have anyone to take care of them. She wanted to do something for more kids than her own. But eventually she learned to embrace her role, and stopped worrying about doing something else.
Years went by. The guy she married was also having trouble finding a way to help people rather than just work to support his own family. They both had it in their hearts to be of real service and help to the world beyond their own family.
One day they heard about the refugee communities in Thailand and the kids that needed help. Her husband traveled to Thailand and came back trying to figure out how to be of help to those kids and their communities.
So, in an effort to serve her husband, who still had to work full time, and the children in Thailand, Carrien somehow founded a non-profit, even though she hates paperwork.
She had the idea that the orphanage could be self-sustaining by growing their own food. It was he husband, and others who took it to a really cool level and thought of the business idea. (Actually, the people taking care of the kids had the same kinds of ideas so really, it was a colabarative effort.)
Now she is the CFO and Secretary of The Charis Project, and she’s doing something to help kids beyond her family, but she’s really hoping that this meeting will generate enough interest that someone else will take over her job so she can go back to being a stay at home, homeschooling mom of, now, 4 children. Though if that happens she will probably have to learn how to do it in Thailand.
Her areas of expertise include, breastfeeding and de-boning a chicken simultaneously, getting kids to swallow medicine that they don’t like, telling stories, and singing songs in as boring a way as possible so that kids fall asleep. She’s also pretty good at making grilled cheese sandwiches, and manages to get dinner on the table most nights. She can tune out the sound of loud children to get a bit of work done and she considers herself an expert in making babies laugh. Once in a while something she writes gets published.
I know, I’m totally impressive. Those business types don’t know what they’re in for.