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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chain Reaction

In the mid 80’s my life was a huge mess, but fortunately I was able to turn things around. I realized what I was doing wrong and that I didn’t have my priorities straight. My priorities needed to be faith, family and friends being first. So I made the necessary changes and by early 1989 my life was going really well. I was operating a successful new business in Orange County, had a new place to live, and lots of new friends. I remember waking up one day and saying to myself, “I need to thank God for all the blessings He has given me.” But thanking Him just didn’t seem like enough, so I decided to show my gratitude by giving back.

When I got to work that morning, I grabbed the yellow pages (remember those days) and started looking for charities located near my office. As I ran my finger down the page, I came across the “Saddleback Community Outreach”. Since I had this beautiful view of Saddleback Mountain right outside my office window, it inspired me to pick that charity, which I visited that very same day. I discovered it was a brand new organization started by a man in his 70’s who had recently sold his insurance business so that he could spend all of his time helping others. Talk about having your priorities straight!

I started volunteering a few hours every Wednesday afternoon and found it to be both fun and satisfying. I continued working every week for several years and then I received an unusual “reward” for my efforts in 1991… my future wife came into my life! After Debby and I got married, she decided to get involved with the Outreach as well, except in a much larger way. By 2006 it had become one of the largest charities in South Orange County and Debby was elected President of the Board of Directors. I can’t even begin to add up the hours Debby has put in working for free at SCO (which is now called South County Outreach), or the sleepless nights she has spent worrying about coming up with enough money and donations to buy food each month. Her dedication to the organization has been incredible and it has also been extremely inspiring to me, as well as to many others.

Looking back at my life, I can see that the decision I made to “give back” started a chain reaction. I was simply trying to give back in some small way, but somehow it led to meeting my wife, which led to her being inspired to do charity work as well, which has led to her inspiring many, many others to join her at the Outreach, which is an organization that now hands out over 2 tons of food a day to needy people. We never know when some small act of faith, or some small gesture of gratitude may spawn a huge result. But we do know that somebody has to start the chain. Why not let it be you!
Debby, 4th from the left, hiding in the background
All men should strive to learn before they die, 
what they are running from, and to, and why.
~ James Thurber 

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