I'm so excited that I get to share with you my dear friend Alicia! I first met Alicia back in 2010 on my first trip to WPPI. I remember sitting with a group of photographers, crying like a baby. I was so unhappy. I wanted a new career, a new start in photography. I saw all these people following their dreams, living a different kind of life, and I desperately wanted it more than anything. I couldn't imagine that one short year later I would be doing just that! And despite my theatrics, Alicia introduced herself, gave me a hug, and we've been friends since!
This girl has a giant heart for others and shares that heart in all that she does. From her every day life to her business, Alicia's personality and purpose shines through! I can't wait for what she's going to share with you below! Everyone, give Alicia a warm welcome!
Let's be honest...who of us isn't jealous about where Deb is right now? Ok truth be told, I'm not entirely jealous because I myself am in Ecuador right now!:) Nevertheless, I am delighted to be a guest blogger for Deb today because I read this blog regularly! But I'm not going to lie...sometimes it is hard writing for another person's blog. You don't know who their audience is, you don't know if they will get your jokes, and you're afraid that your love for the New York Yankees will immediately get you permanently banned from a Boston photographer's blog. Wait, did I just admit that I'm a die hard, life long Yankees fan? I did. And Deb STILL asked me to write a blog post. I secretly think it's because deep down she knows which team is really worth rooting for. I digress...
**(OH BOY!! I may be in the Caribbean but DID A YANKEE FAN JUST DISS the RED SOX on MY BLOG?!)** Banned for life. Just kidding...Sorta. :-P
Deb asked me to write from my heart. Do you have any idea how difficult that is when your "heart" is in so many places? But one thing that I always return to, time after time, is my passion for helping others and seeing others succeed. So I share with you the story of a woman who, years ago, rocked my world. And after that I will give you a call to action that will hopefully change your life as much as it did mine!
It was 102 degrees that day. With our sunblock on and a bottle of [lukewarm] water in hand, we loaded up to go into the bush of Kenya to set up a two-day medical camp in a village that was unable to get any medical treatments. It took us four hours of off-roading in Land Rovers to get there. There were points of the trip that we were not sure if we could go any further because the terrain was so rugged.
Upon arrival, we had discovered that not only were the villagers that we expected there, but there were also villagers that had traveled for days to get there upon hearing that we would be coming with medicine. We set up our stuff and sat under a makeshift shade tent as we buckled down to meet thousands of Africans who had come for help. And of all the people I met, there is one face I will never forget.
Her name was Yolanda. She had waited in line for hours, with the hot African sun beating down on her and her four children, until finally she got to me and gave me her prescriptions. Unlike most of the villagers, she knew a little bit of English. As I gave her baby two shots and began filling prescriptions for each of her children, she began telling me about the reality of life in that African village. The women worked together inside the village to keep things running while the men were out hunting for food every day. Often times an entire tribe of men would come back with just one catch of the day…to feed the whole tribe. Food was not the only problem – there were no water sources anywhere within miles and so this tribe was forced to drink from muddy puddles after it rained and to collect the water from those puddles to save for the drought season. I stopped her right there.
Did she just say that they saved water from muddy puddles so that they could drink it later? She continued to explain that many of their children are very sick and some have even died due to the fact that they have no clean water.
It was then and there that I realized something had to be done.
Fast forward to two and a half years ago when I moved back to the states and decided to go full-time with my photography business. I have a chicken-scratch piece of paper that I wrote on the flight home with five goals of running my business stateside. The very first thing I wrote was “make a difference.” I knew that it was important to make money, provide clients with a great experience and develop my brand. But the single most important thing for me was making a difference – In the lives of my clients, in the lives of vendors I would work with, and in the lives of those who don’t have the chance I have.
I am passionate about business and I love photography but I also knew that I was created to do so much more than just work at a job I loved. And as a Westerner who is more privileged than 80% of all the people in the world (if you are reading this, you are too!), I felt the responsibility weighing heavily on my shoulders to give back to those who are less fortunate.
Currently my business donates 10% of everything it makes to Thirst Relief and we are leaving this week to take a team of 10 clients on a relief trip to Ecuador…the first of many trips to come.
So how does this apply to you? I would challenge you to think for a second about how you can give back. Maybe that means volunteering at your local food pantry or homeless shelter. Maybe it means sponsoring a child through a program like Compassion International. Maybe it means starting a fundraiser for Thirst Relief. Maybe it means spending time with the elderly at your local nursing home. Whatever it is for you, I would just encourage you to do your best to give back to your local community. It is, by far, the best decision I have ever made for both my business and my life and I know it will be for yours too!