#LemonadeForLakeHighlands

Tonight I started writing a Facebook post to share in a couple of moms groups in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas and realized it was turning into the longest post ever so I decided to really long form it and turn it into a mini-blog! (editor’s note {I’m my own editor so this is in first person, also I am sure this brackets inside a parenthesis thing is a grammatical mess, and now I have a run-on, in a bracket, inside a parenthesis, inside an editor’s note — when there is no editor} When I wrote this the intention was for it to be mini then I started talking and couldn’t stop! #storyofmylife)

While I am creating a call to action specifically for Lake Highlands and Dallas as a whole, there are some elements to this story that I think readers all over can get something from, and hopefully be inspired to help.

First of all, I want to tell you all a little bit about my friend Caren. She is one of the strongest and kindest people I have ever known, and that is saying something because I know some pretty kick-ass people. I won’t share her whole story with you- she wrote a book after all so she can tell it much better than me, you can check her out at www.carenbright.com. But among all the things that she has lived through (that woman shares my Survivor gene,) I think the hardest and the most un-imaginable to me is that she spent a period of time in a homeless shelter with a baby.

Now I have had more than my share of hardships, but I have to be real honest here and say that I was always privileged. There have been times when our budget was tighter, but that meant I couldn’t eat out whenever I wanted or get my hair colored as often as I would like. I have never had a day where I wondered if I would be able to make rent, or where my next meal was coming from, and certainly never a time when I couldn’t afford to buy diapers for my kids.

But Caren did. And then she fought her way out of generational poverty (with the help of an amazingly strong faith and a beautiful community.) And then, she started a non-profit organization, Pamper Lake Highlands, that provides free enriching classes for families, and motivates them to attend regularly by providing free diapers at the end of each week. Three days a week she serves 85 women and their children, all of whom are living in poverty, and offers programs like ESL, GED, parenting, financial literacy, counseling, assistance connecting into other community resources, and much more. AND their kids get to attend free high-quality pre-school. She calls it “Dual Generational Poverty Intervention,” and she does it so well because she has lived it herself.

She even designed her own curriculum, Bright Futures, which goes beyond the hard skills that people need to succeed, and addresses things like goal setting, positive mindset, accountability, and conflict resolution. She has said to me before, (and I paraphrase because my mind since kids is like a sieve) “People who have never been able to think beyond the next paycheck have probably never made a vision board. Because how can you spend time and energy imagining what you want your life to be if you don’t first believe there is a chance that can happen for you.” That, along with many other things she has taught me have blown my mind!

Bright Futures Graduate
Quote from Erika: “I started going to college and received my CDA because of Bright Futures. Pamper Lake Highlands has given me the opportunity to grow my vision for myself bigger to become an elementary school teacher and inspire the next generation.”

 

And now Caren’s in a jam. And we are going to help. That’s right I said we. If you have read this far you are contractually obligated to join in. You signed a very small contract with your eye movements without knowing it. (editor’s note: remind myself later to pitch this idea to some tech investors…)

I have already given Pamper Lake Highlands what I can financially right now. So that leaves me with the sometimes valuable and sometimes completely worthless currency of IDEAS (Imagine me saying this with lots of jazz hands!) Hopefully for them it is one of my winners.

So. A donor who had made a major commitment to the organization backed out at the last minute. I’m sure they had a reason but, note to donors, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS!! It really hurts small non-profits.

And that leaves them short for all the bills they need to pay on Tuesday. And I know it was just North Texas Giving Day but those checks don’t come until after Halloween and they need help now!

So here’s what we are going to do. We are going to get a bunch of people in Dallas to promote volunteerism in their kids and help them set up lemonade stands. Since we may finally have some fall-ish weather, people can also elect to do hot apple cider and pumpkin muffin stands. Whatever you want to sell- set up a table, grab your adorable kiddos and march to your front yard and start selling. My girls and I are doing one tomorrow afternoon and selling hot apple cider, rice krispy treats, and these things Emma has been making out of empty Kleenex boxes called “Sneaky Peaky boxes.” (editor’s note: this is also a great way to get rid of excess kid crafts you have lying around. People will pay a couple of bucks for them ’cause your kids are cute and they don’t want to crush their artistic dreams- your kids feel awesome because their art sold, you get it out of your house, and you raise money for a great cause that really needs it!)

All you need is some lemonade and crappy kid art, a jar for donations, a posterboard that says #LemonadeForLakeHighlands, and some kids! Then when people come by, tell them a little about why you are raising money and… here’s the key, encourage them to leave a donation in the jar but even better- go to their website and make a donation (www.pamperlakehighlands.org) or just shoot them some money on PayPal to accounting@pamperlakehighlands.org. The thing is that if people take the time to do that they will generally give a lot more than a dollar or two. That is how a “Sneaky Peaky Box” is going to sell for $20- well that and my mom will probably buy one!

I can see it now- an army of kids in their front lawns united in the quest to help bridge this gap so that this incredible organization can keep their programs going and so that my bestie Caren can stop stressing out for a minute. A wave of #LemonadeForLakeHighlands photos and posts showing Caren that we see her and the work she is doing. And a flood of donations (I really like how I mixed my metaphors here) that not only get Pamper Lake Highlands out of this tight spot, but give them confidence that if they keep serving their community, their community will show up for them.

***If you want more information about how to participate, feel free to email me at natalie@mommiesinneed.org.  If you would like to set up a stand, let us know and we can drop off some marketing materials about the cause as well as send you a short info sheet with a couple of “How to” tips. And if you don’t live in Dallas or can’t do a stand this weekend but want to help, please go to the Pamper Lake Highlands website and donate. As little as $5 makes a difference, but nobody is saying no to $500!***

 

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