Over the last nine months, I have been working towards my first Toastmasters award, the Competent Communicator. With this speech, I have achieved that level! Now I get to move on to fun things. First up? Storytelling, which I think the kids will like to have me practice on them, and Public Relations, which I think my not-for-profits will benefit from. Speaking of not-for-profits, this tenth speech was to be one of inspiration. Although I went over on time, I think I got my message across. It was written as an 8-10 minute speech, but I have been asked to shorten it to a 5-7 minute speech and enter it into Toastmasters competition. I would love to hear which parts you enjoyed the most so that I know where to trim. For the first time since I joined Toastmasters, did notes and spoke more from the heart than spending hours getting the right wording and then reading from those notes. I have recreated the speech as best as I can remember, so if you heard my speech and see that I missed something, please let me know. For those of you reading, I had two “slight Ah’s” this go round, so I am getting better! I also did not want to upload all the photos I used, so if there is something you would like to see, such a my Christmas trees or Derby hats, let me know and I can email you a copy. Without further ado, #KKPIF.
My sister was watching her three-year-old daughter participate in her first preschool Easter Egg hunt. At first, she saw her pointing out hidden Easter eggs to one of the little boys. Why was she doing that? Because her basket was full already. A little while later, my sister saw her frantically going through her basket. “Is it okay if I give some of these to Clarissa? She didn’t get any and did you know there is CANDY in here?!?” Her mother couldn’t wait to share the news with the whole family as she was so proud of her and felt that we all had a hand in it. Now before you get to thinking she is a saint, let us fast forward a couple of months to a concert in town. We were having Italian ices when her mom came to find us. My sister said, “Those look good” and my niece asked her if she would like to try our ices. So she gave her mom and bite of hers and she said it was good. So my niece said, “Here, try Aunty’s” and shared mine.
If you ever get the chance to meet my nephew, do not ask him to share. I made that mistake last June when I said something about his mac and cheese looking good. He gave me a bite. Then passed it around the table and made sure that everybody else there took a bite as well. He is generous and determined. If you tease him about taking a lick of his lollipop, he will not relent until you take a lick of that lollipop and then make sure everybody else here takes a lick as well!
Good evening Fellow Toastmasters and Honored Guests. The theme of my speech tonight is inspiration. The title is #KKPIF. Are you wondering what that hashtag means? Well, we will get to that in a bit.
A quote I like to live by is “Those who can do. Those who can do more volunteer.” Last week, Edna gave us an outstanding speech on how to help rescue pets. While my first dog, Dutch, was not rescued from a shelter, he was a rescue we got from my dad’s boss. We know that it was a tall, skinny guy with dark hair and glasses that used to abuse him as he would attack all males matching that description. To remember what Dutch was like when he first came to the family and how he slowly came around to fit into the family inspired me to work with the San Clemente Animal Shelter. I did not work at the shelter, as I knew I would want to take all the animals home, but I did work on their fundraisers and this was the start of my serious fundraising work. The first time, I worked the night of the event and we made $24,000. The next year I started working with the planning committee. They already had all their connections in the area, so I thought I would work out of the area. I cut a deal with them. If they would pay the postage, I would send out letters. I gave them the bill for my postage and they just about had a fit. Then my first letter came. It was a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a rejection letter. I was crushed. A couple days later I got an envelope from the Beverley Wilshire, the hotel from the movie “Pretty Woman”, and they gave us a night’s stay. Even at half price, it would more than cover the costs of my postage! After that, items started flowing in from all over the US and the Caribbean. By the end of the event, they were calling me the Donation Dynamo and we made over $40,000 that year. The next year, they had twice as much postage waiting for me at the opening meeting! Within a couple of years, we were up to $100,000 night and my items alone were clearing over $10,000. Then there was a coup and I got tired of the politics, so I moved on. That is when I started working with a variety of cancer groups.
Thursday evening I will be at the kickoff for the 11th annual San Juan Capistrano Relay for Life. I have walked from midnight to 4 a.m. each year for my team. It is quieter at that time of night and it is a great time to reflect as you walk down the luminaria lit track. The first year I was walking and noticed some of the candles going out. I started replacing and relighting them as I thought how sad it would be for someone to come walk their shift and be unable to find their loved one’s luminaria as it was burned out. That became my job thereafter. I might not get as many laps in as others as I walk, stop, light a luminaria, walk a few more steps and do it again. Over and over for four hours. This past year, we were short people to work the event and I ended up working from 8 in the morning until midnight, I never even got a chance to take a nap. One of the other committee members said he was going to give a donation to the Relay on behalf of the Boys and Girls Club Team if they kept the candles lit. I thanked him, but on my first lap at midnight, I noticed some luminarias were out. I grabbed some candles and lit a couple on my next lap. After that, I did not see any more to light. A couple laps later, I set down my supplies. I did not see a single candle being lit, but I did not see another one out that night either. The kids were amazing and I was so thankful to Ken. I do not think I would have made it the whole four hours had I been in charge of lighting the candles. I swear the people there probably thought I was drunk as by 1:30, I could not walk in a straight line. After being on my feet for so long, I was exhausted!
I also work with the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation at UCLA. We make four-foot Christmas trees to raffle off and I cannot afford to compete with some of the others, so I go for the unusual. I made a very popular wine tree, martini tree and power tool tree. If you ever want to impress someone at Christmas, I would be glad to help you make one of these.
Sometimes I am not “that” involved in a group. I attend the annual Kentucky Derby Party for the Equestrian Coalition of San Juan Capistrano and participate in their Derby hat contest. As you might guess, my hats are always fan favorites and I won the first couple of years!
On January 12th, a family friend had an accident and broke his C5. In an instant, Sean’s life changed. And not just his life, but that of his wife, his unborn twins, his mother, his sisters and brother and other extended family. I am not a nurse type, but I am a fundraiser and I have extended my services to the family. Just today, we finally got our partnership with a 501c3 set-up and we are going to start fundraising. His out-of-pocket expenses are expected to be over a million dollars! I don’t think we will make that much money, but every little bit adds up and will help.
Whatever your interests are, I am sure there is some sort of volunteer group out there that would love to have your assistance. If you are not already doing something for your community, I hope I have inspired you tonight to do something. If you have children in your life, children, grandchildren or nieces and nephews, take them along with you. If you are not sure where to start, may I suggest a group I belong to on Meetup.com called Everything Under The Sun That Is Charitable in the OC. This group posts volunteer opportunities from a wide variety of groups throughout the county. They work in the warehouse of Women Helping Women sorting clothes, work in a variety of soup kitchens and food banks, assist at charity golf tournaments and at the Special Olympics. Like to paint? Their Paint Your Heart Out project helps fix up houses for elderly people of limited means. Homefront America does a variety of events for military families such as welcome home events, backpacks for going back to school and Easter parties. Whether you want to do something once a week, a month or a year, Everything Under the Sun is a great group as you can donate your time to a variety of groups without becoming involved with all the groups directly. Maybe give them a trial run to see which you like the best and then join them.
This last year has been one of tremendous growth for me. Probably the most since I was a kid. I have been working to improve my education in a variety of subjects, most notably in Social Media. I am rocking it on LinkedIn, I have started two blogs, I have two accounts on Google+, one for me and one for Sean, I have found and founded groups on Meetup and I have several accounts on Twitter including a personal one and several for my groups. One thing I would like to learn more about is hashtags so I decided to work on that next.
Ghandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” How am I doing that? By being a good example to my niece and nephew. In the last few months alone, I created a margarita Christmas tree, baked 1,000+ cookies for the Marines, and helped with traffic control at the town’s tree lighting ceremony. I stepped up as Acting Vice President Public Relations, Vice President Membership and Vice President of Education for our Toastmasters club, helped Grandpa a nieghbor, and am a sounding board for Sean’s sisters. At a time when I myself am looking for a mentor, I have found myself being a mentor to others in transition and as I am learning Social Media, I am helping a friend promote her business via Social Media. I am also helping my sister as she launches her new business and this week I starting to organize some fundraisers for Sean’s family.
I think it is especially important to share your good work with the next generation. I take my niece and nephew with me to fun events and somber events. But even with everyday life, I try to teach them to be better citizens. When washing their hands, I have taught them to take the papertowl and wipe off the sink for the next person. We let people cut in line if they have less items or have a fussy kid just as people did for me when they were little. I’ve taught them to be good to the environment and we have fed coins to parking meters for people who were out of time. Even something as old-fashioned as holding the door open for others is appreciated. And not only do I teach them what to do, we discuss why it is nice or important for them to do so.
This past week I saw a speaker by the name of Luke Mysee. He spoke about Passion + Privilege = Purpose. His passion to feed starving toddlers in Africa with a peanut butter/milk/vitamin paste. With a single sixty day regiment, they can save the toddler’s life. He cares about this so much, he is sharing his passion this summer by riding his bike from California to the East Coast. His privilege is to have a supportive family. His purpose is to raise more money and awareness of how easy these lives can be saved. It made me want to do something more, but I am not that ambitious. So I decided to start #KKPIF.
Mother Teresa said, “Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead.” My call to action tonight for all of you is to ask all of you to do something every day from February 27th to April 12th, to be the change you wish to see in the world. If you have the money, consider buying a $50 Starbucks card. Tell the cashier to use the card to pay the bill for people ordering a drink or two. Don’t tell them who did it, just tell them to have a nice day and then sit in the corner and watch the joy on people’s faces. Money kind of scarce? Then let somebody over in front of you on the freeway or this weekend it is supposed to rain. Leave the spot by the door open and park across the lot and use an umbrella into the store. Big or little, share what you are doing with the world. If you are social media adept, I ask that you use #KKPIF or KalKaryn Pay It Forward. (KalKaryn is a nickname I have used for about 30 years when I was dreaming of living in California again one day.) And the reason for 44 days? They say it takes 21 days to make a habit and I would love to see you make it a habit for life. But at 44 days, I am giving you twice as long to get used to doing it. Why 44 days? Because February 27th is not only the Kickoff meeting for my 11th annual Relay for Life, it is also my 44th birthday. I would really like to do something to change the world and I thought this would be a good start. I hope you have all been inspired tonight to help me celebrate my birthday and I look forward to seeing your posts to #KKPIF.