The only constant in my life has been change, since immigrating to the United States in 1980. Shortly upon arrival in the states, my parents divorced, and I was raised by my father with limited family in the US. He worked hard to provide a roof over our heads and quite strict, running our household in a militant fashion. As he accumulated wealth, we would move to a new school district. By the time I was a Senior in High School, I was enrolled in my second high school, the seventh school since Kindergarten.
Perhaps due to the unstable environment I was living in and not see eye to eye with my father’s philosophies, I took a greyhound bus to California early senior year of high school. I was quickly sent back to Michigan by the police. My father agreed that me living under his roof was no longer a good idea. Since we had limited family in the US, I moved to Allendale, MI, right outside Grand Rapids, where my sister had an apartment while attending Grand Valley State University. My father signed over some paperwork for my sister to act as my guardian as she was over 18 so I could complete high school. I started my 3rd high school at Allendale High, where I eventually graduated from.
Because I learned the hard way the lack of resources available to homeless youth and how easy it is for them to fall through the cracks of our legal system, I paid it forward to these kids who often end up homeless of no fault of their own, during my days at IHG by spearheading a fundraiser for StandUp for Kids that would not have been possible without the support of large corporate enterprises such as Chic Fil A, IHG, Corner Bakery, and Communicorp to name a few. These organizations helped me secure boxes and boxes of donations, gift cards, and catered lunch for the local Atlanta chapter.
So many large corporations unfairly receive backlash for corporate greed when in actuality, nonprofits such as StandUp for Kids wouldn’t be able to keep afloat without corporate sponsorship; We need big businesses. Take my former employer Cox Enterprises, for example, and how much they do for our community. Cox companies collectively gave more than $123 million to their communities through cash, in-kind, and public service announcement donations, including $25Million+ to Winship Cancer Institute at Emory, another organization close to my heart.