Tears from a Clown

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“I cried three times the day after Eddie bought us a van. Mostly, they were tears of joy and gratitude, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humbling too.”


We did it! Thank you to all who donated last month to support my birthday fundraiser to replace the 2005 Grand Caravan with 187k miles that served as our School Murals cargo van for five years. Last week, our upgrade was completed to this 2018 Ford Transit with just 14,600 miles. Even better, between donations and pledges, the van is 100% paid for!

If you didn’t donate towards the van, it’s never too early to give for Thrive Collective’s year-end Turn Up the Value campaign.

The Rest of the Story

Sometimes I find myself whining about how I wish the fundraising part of my job came a little easier. How I wish for wealthy patrons to write us big checks to stabilize salaries and cash flow so we could focus on executing our mission and loving students.

In those moments, I sometimes complain that all my deepest relationships are with poor kids and their families. Like last week, when it looked like the deal for our van might fall through (or be delayed).

My long-time friend from church, Eddie is one of those deep friendships I occasionally whine about. Conventional wisdom might look down on him for his history. He has a felony record, and is a former drug abuser and drug dealer. Today, he works as a building superintendent. In 1996, when I helped twelve teens open a youth center in the Lower East Side (Thrive Collective 1.0), Eddie had no money. But he volunteered to buff and wax the floors and do a deep cleaning of the space before we opened. He brought his children with him, who were around 2 and 4. I was afraid that they would keep him distracted, so I found a “job” for them. I called them my toy testers and asked them to go through boxes of old toys to help me decide which ones we should save and which to throw away.

Three years ago Eddie became the superintendent of a luxury building in the Upper West Side. The fabulous furniture in our office has mostly come from his building’s trash room. He works lots of overtime and lives rent free. Two years ago, he replaced my 8-year old laptop.

Regarding the van, our social media campaign last month generated $3,900. Eddie was one of the donors. He gave $600 and offered to co-sign for a loan to finance the purchase. I was thrilled.

About those Tears

Days before we picked up the van, Eddie told me he was going to give an additional $3,000 for the down payment. Then, when the financing was approved, he told me he is going to take care of the monthly payments. In short, Eddie single handedly replaced my old family van that I gave to Thrive five years ago, allowing us to use the proceeds from the social media campaign for necessary customizations.

Generally, I’m not known as a crier. I cried three times the day after Eddie bought us a van. Mostly, they were tears of joy and gratitude, sprinkled with a healthy dose of humbling too.

Eddie exponentially turned up the value for Thrive Collective this month. As this year draws to a close, please consider helping us Turn up the Value for students in 2019 with a year-end gift.

In service,

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