People were shocked when they heard my answer when they asked me what I was doing for my birthday. I told them, “I have a JWW event in Portland, Oregon so I’m waking up at 6:00 AM and returning at midnight that same night. And I can’t wait.”
I know, I know. There’s no way I actually WANTED to work on my birthday, right? But I did.
Let me explain:
About 4 months ago, we began receiving checks from a woman in Portland named Denise Wetherell. Denise is like each and every one of us. Someone who while in college truly believed she could change the world. Remember that feeling? Then like the rest of us, life caught up with Denise. Career, marriage, family, children, carpools, soccer games… sound familiar? That desire to “make a difference” not only got put on the back burner, it had to be turned off to conserve energy to just get through the day.
Then one afternoon last April, Denise’s daughter Anna came home from religious school. Anna had just heard a presentation from JWW Founding President, Janice Kamenir-Reznik and came home with one request: “Mom, we have to do something.” And something was just what she did. Denise made the commitment to donate her earnings from the last Friday of every month to JWW. She created material and a website to help her promote this to her customers. Anna, not to be outdone, created hand-made silk flower hair accessories that she sold in order to raise money for JWW. If they stopped there, it would already have been a blog-worthy story. But they didn’t stop.
After receiving the first set of checks from Denise, I decided to call, introduce myself, and thank her for her generosity. What started as a “thank you” became a conversation – one that led to a huge, exciting event that brought together people from all over Portland to support the women of Sudan and Congo.
Pamper for a Purpose, Denise’s brainchild, was a monumental event that could have easily taken an organization with a full, dedicated staff a year to pull off. Denise did it in four months. Denise rallied everyone in her professional network to donate “pampering” services – anything from manicures, massages, haircuts to reflexology. Then everyone came together for a day at the park, where other people paid $20 in exchange for those services.
Imagine, all of these hard working people, in this economy no less, taking a day off work – or taking their day off – and spending it providing services in return for a $20 donation to Jewish World Watch! In addition to all of the service providers, people donated unbelievable items for a raffle. Two of the most rockin’ bands I’ve heard in a while also donated their time to play during the event. In fact, many of the hundreds of people attending the event at first had no idea what was going on in beautiful Millennium Park that day: they just heard the rock and roll and came to check it out. Then they stayed for a pampering treatment and to learn more about what they could do for the people of Sudan and Congo.
The Never Again Coalition, a group of different organizations that provide Portland’s response to genocide and other crimes against humanity, was there in force. Vincent and Jeremie, leaders of the Congolese community living in Portland also added dramatic significance to why we were there. It truly felt like the entire community came to pitch in to make this event a success. Neighbors, friends, professionals… everyone lent a hand in doing something. I surveyed the scene and got a little choked up realizing how one woman’s passion was able to inspire so many people. At that moment, someone walked up to me and thanked me for spending my birthday in Portland-non-stop-on my feet, running around like crazy. I gave the first answer that came to my mind, straight from my heart: Being in Portland, for Pamper for a Purpose, was the best birthday present EVER!!!