Do you remember Bradley Cooper’s dicky character in Wedding Crashers? Just before the crashers decide to dose his water with eye-drops, he’s retelling this dramatic tale of saving a baby seal from an oil spill.
He mimics its distressed cries as he wipes the oil from his little eyes.
“And I was holding this tiny baby seal and it looked up at me and went ‘arr, arr arr! and then I wiped its little nose and it went ‘arr, arr arr arrr arr”‘
At that point we’re all on board to shut this guy the hell up. Hahahaha.
What incites our anger is that he’s clearly an aggressive, spoiled douche who has never known any true adversity.
Everybody knows some version of this “holier than thou” turd, who talks about charity work much more than actually clocking in and contributing.
Here’s my personal confession.
For my first 36 years, I have often felt like that turd of a guy in terms of giving back. Our company does tons of philanthropy work each year, but since they are based in another state, I haven’t been able to donate as much time or money as I would like.
Between my family and rigorous travel schedule, I’ve operated at “load limit” from daybreak until lights out for the last 5 years.
Don’t get me wrong, my giving efforts haven’t been a complete, wretched fail. There have been causes I’ve supported here and there. A few years back our daughter Elliott inspired family and friends to repaint some rooms at a women’s shelter. I took my guitar and entertained kids while the painting was going on, and we made a pretty nice donation.
I’m quick to help neighbors and friends. We love donating carloads of stuff to shelters and so on, but still there was something major missing.
Too often I feel consumed by my “First World” problems while true adversity and hardship are affecting people all over the world.
At the beginning of 2012, I set a new intention. Somehow, I would need to give much more and help many more people than I’ve ever been able to. I had no idea where to begin.
Walking in Chicago one bright January morning, I was approached by a college kid who was canvassing for Child Fund. All I said was, “show me the children.”
I adopted Ibrahim, my beautiful little soul brother who lives in the Sierra Leone, Africa. He’s 12, and his family survives on about $24 per year. Per YEAR. The $30/month we contribute goes toward his education because his program advisers believe “he’s very bright and shows promise”. This little cat will provide for his family and community some day.
Ellie and I spent one Sunday writing Ibrahim a bunch of letters, drawing him pictures and stuffing the envelope full of Spiderman stickers. The only thing I could think of to write was “Thank You. We have found one another for a reason, you and I. We have a limitless capacity to impact and improve one another’s life. When you see a map of the world, find Akron, Ohio in the United States. Tell your friends that you have family here.”
Fast forward a few months, and I saw the founder of Charity: Water speak in Portland. Charity: Water has become an incredibly savvy and sexy brand over the last few years. Their strategy is simple: “To bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries. 100% of all public donations directly fund water projects.”
Imagine waking up every day and having to walk hours to the nearest water source. Often, it’s the women and mothers who need to carry back a 50 lb container of water. As if that isn’t its own tragedy in terms of precious time lost, personal safety concerns, and physical torture, think about the water. The photos I’ll never forget were those of a little girl, about the same age as our daughter Frankie.
The brown water she was drinking was so full of bacteria and fungi that she was literally vomiting while she was trying to drink it. Her body knew she needed it to survive, but was rejecting it at the same time because it was poison. I don’t want to go into the insane deformities, sickness, and death that follows from drinking that shit. There was a film of what it looked like under a microscope, and it would make your skin crawl.
The entire slide was alive and moving. It looked evil.
To think of any one of the children or babies I know drinking deadly water is unacceptable.
To imagine having to walk hours in both directions, just to deliver tainted, disease-infested water is unacceptable.
The real beauty of Charity: Water is that they have done their homework. They have determined that this water crisis is absolutely solvable. Often the water tables beneath the villages where these people live resemble underground lakes. These people are standing right above water that can be cleaned, filtered, and made accessible.
Without the means of accessing it though, the only option is to continue with the current broken system.
To date Charity: Water has helped well over 2.5 million people get access to clean water, and their founder said he won’t stop until they reach 2 Billion.
Why I’m Giving Up my Birthday.
(*And why you should consider donating $37)
1. $37 is not some arbitrary amount. From what I understand, it’s the numerical age I’ll hit on my next birthday, September 5th. I’ve already had too many birthdays, focused on the accumulation of ultimately useless crap and lavish meals. $37 is roughly the cost of about 8 or 9 Starbucks lattes, 4 packs of Chicago cigarettes, or 2 to 3 high-end martinis.
When you click below: You will leave my site, and be taken directly to my campaign page on Charity: Water’s secure website. There you can see the donations I’ve raised so far, read about how they prove where donations go, and watch a video detailing the problem you’re helping to solve.
2. For every $20 donated, one human being gains access to clean, healthy water. 100% of public donations go directly to the field, as Charity: Water‘s operating costs are offset by celebrity and corporate donors. Water projects are designed to be sustainable over time as well. Wells and projects will be maintained indefinitely.
3. Charity: Water shares the location of every water project via Google Earth Maps. Once your donations go to work in the field, I’ll share notifications as to where they went. You can visit Charity: Water‘s “Proving It” map here. Below is a snapshot of what these projects look like. Depending on the final tally, we may even get a plaque next to our project!
4. If I can’t motivate you to simply do the right thing, how about (my own) public embarrassment? There is a legend around The Carter House. It is the legend of The Worst Photo Ever Taken of Daddy. In this photo taken circa 2001, I was halfway through cutting off my very fluffy, very long hair. For some additional drama, I started by cutting it into the fiercest fluffy-mullet of All Time.
I am also rocking a goatee. I am also rocking impossibly thick, “Austin Powers” level chest hair. My fist is raised in a position of Rock Power, with an accompanying sneer on my pursed lips.Tragically, this whole scene took place in the bathroom, so I am seated on a (closed) toilet.
You have to trust me here. This photo SUCKS. Its mere existence threatens to unravel my personal brand. This morning when I scanned it I literally got a little nauseous.
If we exceed $3700, I will do the Unthinkable…
a. My campaign goal for Charity: Water is to exceed $3700 in donations. This is completely doable regardless, but I’d like to get there before my birthday on September 5th.
b. For every $370 closer we get to the goal, I’ll remove one of the blocks below.
c. BUT WAIT <GULP!>, THERE’S MORE…. If we achieve the $3700 goal on or before September 5th, I will make this photo my profile pic across *ALL* social media for 2 weeks. Yes, including LinkedIn (where all of my clients, colleagues, mentors, and spiritual advisers reside). < I can almost hear the sounds of shock and alienation reverberating through my social networks…. There could be a mass defection like scurrying rats from a sinking ship.>
Witnessing the (3) natural births of our children changed me forever. I hadn’t held an infant prior to catching Elliott’s head as she showed up a few minutes before the doctor.
Since that night in 2004, I can’t watch any shows or films where children are abducted or hurt. Period. The thought of anything happening to anybody’s child sickens me.
Which is why I’ve become open to the wider responsibility we have for our brothers and sisters all over the Earth.
The deeper I go into my meditation, family, spiritual & career journeys, the more clearly the truth presents itself:
We are 1.
All of us.
We are only separate fingers on 1 giant hand.
I would do anything to lift anybody up, or help them see in themselves what is glaringly obvious to me.
I believe in everyone, and everything. All the time.
PS. Please take a few minutes to watch this beautiful video. Such a moving, incredible story….
When you click above: You will leave my site, and be taken directly to my campaign page on Charity: Water’s secure website. There you can see the donations I’ve raised so far, read about how they prove where donations go, and watch a video detailing the problem you’re helping to solve.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. xoxoxo -kc