Memories That Last A Lifetime

20 Jan

The holidays are over, friends and family from miles away have all returned home, and we have a little time to rest. What better time, then, to reflect on all the things that make those people as special as they are to us? This season was among the most meaningful for us at Be a Number. After all the holiday parties, after the friends and the family were gone, and even before they arrived, we had a chance to share the joy of the Season of Giving with children in downtown Detroit, Michigan.

On December 24, 2010, we handed out 100 shirts to children at I Am My Brother’s Keeper Ministries, a ministry that had just suffered the sudden death of its leader, Pastor Henry Convington. His inspirational story is beautifully depicted in the book Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom, and it is a story which absolutely inspired us to visit the ministry. This year, we learned the true meaning of the holiday season: to love, to give, and to cherish.

We saw the love the Pastor Covington had for those who only passed through the ministry, and also for more permanent members. We saw the love he had for the building itself, which has suffered many expensive damages over the years. Most of all, however, we saw the love he had for the children in the area. He set up family nights for children and their families to play games, enjoy a meal, and congregate. He made many sacrifices to help them, and took many under his wing.

We gave one hundred children a Be A Number t-shirt through the organization, but more importantly, we gave them our constant support and our hope for them to succeed in whatever vocation or goals they set for themselves. We gave them a few words that they can carry with them through good times and bad: keep working, never give up, and dreams really can (and do!) come true.

Finally, we learned to cherish. While each child we have seen over the course of the shirt drops has left an impression on us, with this particular one, we saw what it is like for us to make an impression on the children. We conducted the shirt drop within about two weeks of spending the night there, but only some of us were able to return. The kids, without missing a beat, immediately asked where the others were. Without hesitation, we called Matt, and put the kids on the phone with him so they could hear his voice and tell them what they had been up to since they saw him.

The smiles on their faces were some of the biggest we’ve seen. This was proof for them that we cherish the memories we have of them and we will always care for them. Matt instantly recognized their names and asked enthusiastic questions and was excited to hear from them. Just this simple phone call gave them the sound knowledge that they would never be forgotten. Not only do we cherish and truly care about the kids, they can cherish the message we shared because they had real, powerful proof that we would always remember them.

Below is the video of the shirt drop, we know you’ll enjoy watching it :)

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Giving Thanks, Celebrating Big

4 Dec

A word from Liz, our Representative Coordinator and Promotions Director:

Our new holiday announcements came out recently!

During the Thanksgiving break this year, it was impossible for us here at Be A Number to think about not having such an inspiring mission to call our own. In just a year, we have seen nearly 800 children receive our shirts, all due to an idea that started in the wee hours of the morning merely 12 months ago.

At the Thanksgiving Day dinner table, it was obvious to me what I was most thankful for: the opportunity to be involved with such a well-grounded, motivational company. To have the opportunity to devote a few hours a day to helping children that I may never have met, to meeting people from around the world who are world changers in their own right, is an honor for which I am eternally grateful.

Our set-up was perfect for greeting Be A Number newcomers :)

Just yesterday, we celebrated the official 1st birthday of Be A Number, and the time spent doing so will be a memory I will always treasure. After traveling to Kevin‘s hometown, we set up a humble table stand at a local shop which sells our shirts.

We greeted those who stopped in to wish us luck and other customers who wandered in by coincidence and had the opportunity to share with them what we are all about. Watching them then turn to another new customer in order to share our mission in a hushed tone was among the most gratifying sights I have yet experienced. Afterword, while walking downtown, enjoying the thousands of twinkling lights and cheery faces of holiday shoppers, hot chocolate in hand, we passed several people who recognized Be A Number and seemed excited to share it.

As the holiday season draws near, my enthusiasm for Be A Number only continues to grow. We are gearing up for a holiday shirt drop in Detroit, Michigan (details soon!), and we couldn’t be more excited. The Season of Giving seems the perfect time to spread a little extra hope, and remind children all over the world that no matter where they find themselves this time of year, it is always possible to dream and it is always possible to smile.

Happy holidays, everyone :)

Kids Helping Kids

29 Sep

Recently, we added a new line of shirts to Be A Number: youth sizes. Not only have we gotten many requests for children’s sizes, but it incorporates a whole new aspect of our mission. Now, not only are we as adults helping children around the world to feel a special connection to someone they have never met, but we are allowing kids to help their peers feel that connection.

We all remember a time in our childhood when we realized something wasn’t quite fair about the world. Whether it was being denied dessert for not finishing our vegetables at dinnertime, or that time when the oldest sibling was allowed to stay up late while we went to bed, we’ve all be there. Other times, we realized not only were our personal worlds unfair, but that some kids had it much worse than we did.

Kids are among the most passionate of people on this earth, and they have the energy and drive that adults comment on every day. “I wish I had that kind of energy” is a common statement at parks, beaches, or even living rooms. So why not let them help us? While they are so full of enthusiasm, they easily set their minds to a task and complete it, often surpassing our expectations of the result. They become excited to know that they have helped others, and revel in their own personal satisfaction at knowing they have made an impact on the world, however small it may seem to us.

For the children who have emptied their small piggy banks and donated all $8 in coins they have to the Red Cross, we have great respect. Others set up lemonade stands and give their rolls of quarters in profits to the Humane Society. Each year, elementary schools around the country band together to help families that may not enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner without a little extra help.

It is only natural, then, that we give kids in our communities an opportunity to help other kids. To us, children’s sizes are not just a response to customer demand, but they are a way to recognize the kids who help other kids, and their parents who have instilled in them such compassion.

If you haven’t yet,  check out this video of the first Be A Number video. You can see a child helping another to put on his new shirt!

Fans and Football

4 Sep

Here in Michigan, leaves are beginning to turn into beautiful reds and yellows, local school districts are getting ready to begin classes, and college students have enjoyed welcome weeks and their first football games of the season. Fall is a unique time of year across America, and millions look forward to hearing marching bands start their school’s fight song while watching dozens of players rush onto the field, excited and nervous for the first play of the game.

Kevin Hershock, our young founder, has enjoyed his playing time for years, but lately he’s been recognized for more than just his presence on the field. Tony Nicolette, a writer for D2football.com, recently wrote a great player profile of Kevin and Be A Number, highlighting both time on and off the field.  Nicolette’s interview with Kevin asks a question many people seem to have, how to balance everything from football to running a business and finishing college. The article even touches on upcoming news about the future of Be A Number.  To read the full article, click here.

Until next time, rest assured that we’re working hard and have big news coming up!

Go Hillsdale Chargers!

Nature’s Humility

28 Jul

Beautiful skies were just a small part of Mananagua's charm

The cruel irony of life often strikes when we least expect it. Mother Nature seems to have no regard for our plans, and whether we like it or not rain will come as quickly as sunshine and storms as easily as clear skies. Unpredictable in her beauty as equally as her wrath, Mother Nature will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of time.

While in the Dominican Republic, sun was abundant and provided a brilliant contrast to rusted corrugated tin  roofs and dusty streets around the Mananagua area, which was the location of our biggest shirt drop yet. An artist’s dream, the scenery was beautiful in its own right, and the smiles of children and adults alike added a shining light to the sun’s rays that only pure happiness can.

After passing out 400 shirts to children in the Dominican, our team returned home tired after a long day of connecting flights, but forever changed. The families that welcomed them into their homes to learn about life in the Dominican demonstrated patience on all levels as Kevin and others did their best to use enough broken Spanish to speak with them. Incomparable friendships and bonds were formed among the people of Mananagua and our team, who helped construct homes and pass out Be A Number shirts to the children.

Kevin's mom pauses for a picture with an adorable little boy

It’s hard to describe, then, the sinking feeling that comes with hearing news that within days of our departure from the Dominican, flooding claimed its power over the town. While those we met were unharmed as far as we could tell, homes were flooded, thousands were evacuated, and water swelled waist-high. Particularly heartbreaking was watching video and images with children in Be A Number shirts in the background.  Though the experience in the Dominican had been such a positive one and our team returned with more confidence in our cause, nature was a step behind us with a reminder that we can never take things for granted and can never stop working for a better world.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to all our friends in the Dominican, as well as those we don’t know, who are working to keep their families safe and healthy, all the while finding shelter and putting their lives back together. We will do our best to update all of you on their progress as new information becomes available, but take a moment to think of them each day, and consider reaching out to them in your own way.

How We Work

15 Jul

It’s no secret that we’re young and full of ideas here at Be A Number, so we often get the question “how do you work so hard when you’re so young?”

Sure, we work hard, but why can’t we have fun at the same time? When we’re not working on our own projects to further Be A Number, we work together to brainstorm, design, and create new programs and publications to reach the masses. Over the years, after completing all the homework, writing all the papers, and studying for all the tests that came with school, we all seemed to come to the same conclusion: if you don’t like what you’re working on, or if you”re not having fun with it, it’s going to take longer to finish and you’ll be bitter about it.

So what can make work fun? Take a couple tips from us: keep the music turned up, laugh (a lot), and explore! We’ve been known to play everything from country to the billboard top 40 playlist, but no matter what it is, we keep it loud so that it doesn’t feel like we’re working in an elevator. Representative Coordinator and Promotions Director Liz has been known to Rickroll people from time to time via email to lighten the mood, and Kevin likes to surprise everyone with the camera on his phone, snapping pictures of us making weird faces or slipping on ice in the winter. We prefer to drive to shirt drops or presentations instead of flying, and road trips are perfect for spur-of-the-moment adventures. If you catch us on the road, you’d probably see us dancing in our seats to the music we’re playing or laughing at our latest wrong turn (we can’t seem to find anyone who’s good with directions!).

We found this beautiful horse when we took a wrong turn down a dirt road in South Dakota

Arguably the best demonstration of a good road trip came on April Fool’s Day 2010 when Kevin and Liz were en route home after the shirt drop in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. They spent hours calling friends and family beginning in the early morning hours with pranks ranging from a broken-down, smoking car to confusing engagement stories. When both phones were almost dead, they turned to a heated argument over which 90s boy band was better: NSYNC or the Backstreet Boys.

In between jokes, impromptu adventures, and loud music, a lot happens: we think of brand new concepts for the future of Be A Number, organize speaking engagements, coordinate with groups who want to spread the Be A Number movement to their followers, and send dozens of emails every day. “What if we…” and “I can’t believe how much we just got done” are some of our most frequently said phrases and we make new to-do lists all the time. See, the way we think is: we work for kids around the world. If we’re going to work for them, we can’t work like we’re in Office Space II.

Try it sometime: find a way to have some fun at work. You’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish and how many new ideas you’ll think of.

Breaking Borders

9 Jul

Today is a big day for us here at Be A Numberour founder, his mom, and 400 shirts are headed to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic this morning. They’ll be working alongside members of Willow Creek church to build houses in the Santo Domingo area, and will be passing out shirts in their “down time.”

Kevin's mom is ready for the Dominican! Here she is on the plane just before take-off!

Our shirt drops began in March 2010, and since then, we have had the opportunity to hand-deliver shirts to elementary students in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, children disabled from Pallister-Killian Syndrome, and now we’re crossing international borders to help children in the Dominican.

It’s incredible what an idea in the middle of the night not quite a year ago has led to. The friendships forged and the connections made have been humbling to all of us, but nothing compares to the children we’re lucky enough to meet and spend time with. They have been a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and most importantly, dreams. They constantly show us what it truly means to dream. As they explore the world around them and encounter all new experiences each day, the children we work for have shared their ideas and goals with us, and we couldn’t be more proud of each of them.

So, as we wait anxiously for updates and photos from the Dominican, those of us back here in the States will be working hard to keep spreading the word about our worldwide (!!) movement to give children hope and help them keep dreaming while they teach us to do the same.

Want to help spread the word? Share a link to the blog, Facebook page, and Twitter, or even the website with friends and family :)

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