This is our NEW blog! “Make Your Move”

Hi there! It’s Dan. For those who don’t know me, I’m the chief person something or other at Hope Shines. Many refer to what I do as the Executive Director job. Either way it doesn’t matter much to me what you call me, I am just a passionate person trying my best to give back in a way that is meaningful to people who need it. This blog is our FIRST! It’s a great lens into what we do at Hope Shines and who all the people are that make this happen. As one would expect, it takes many passionate and driven people to make something beautiful like what we do at Hope Shines. The blog section here will give us a chance to connect you to our mission. It’s a platform to be entertained…to learn…to reflect on yourself and the world around you and us! Thanks for taking the time to come here. I’ll just leave you with a brief story in hopes that you stop by again. Thanks for loving Hope Shines and Rwanda!

I was 32 years old. I had just dumped a bunch of my savings into a trip of a lifetime and here I was now sitting in Rwanda…”Where am I?” I thought. I had read many books about the country and frankly knew very little, even initially as to where it was on the earth. My close old friend, the founder, April, had recruited me to join her summer camp for orphans in Rwanda in the summer of 2009. I was on a kick for traveling and this certainly would check the box as a “cool” and unique place to get a stamp from. So, I’m here in July and it’s hot. I walk the streets with our group in the dark and can only think about the tragic events of the Genocide Against the Tutsi in 1994. It was these very streets where the slaughter of many innocent people happened but it’s what brought me here, indirectly. You see, April came here through work a couple of years earlier and decided this was HER opportunity to give back. She saw a need and she made Hope Shines a vessel to deliver love, caring, provisions, and of course the chance for untraveled people like me to literally be changed in life forever…and it did.

That first trip for 2 weeks was life-changing. Maybe not for the kids, although I think they were, but also for me. It boosted my future passion and ability to give back and led me to where I am now, growing and scaling this organization and impacting even more lives the need a helping hand. If you don’t think 2 weeks can change you, try something like what I did and see what happens. It’s made me a better person, father, husband…it’s expanded my view of the world. It’s brought me riches beyond any material things. Saying goodbye to those kids that first time and seeing their genuine sadness to watch me go was so heart-warming. It left me with a forever memory that stays with me today, in a big way.

In my opinion, we can all do a little more. Some days feel like more of the same and just “get me through this week” but everyday is a day that we can look to see the greater world in a different way…a better way perhaps. What can I do today is the question I now ask myself. I hope it’s something I can be proud of. So, are you going to make your move?

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