“Literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.” -Carl Sagan
Though it would seem that the world doesn’t know or care much about what’s going on in the area of illiteracy and the ever-increasing portion of society that lacks some sort of functional freedom, Life Leadership field members, office staff and founders alike are digging in and making a difference all over North America.
Below, one of Life Leadership’s Cofounders, Claude Hamilton, shares a great perspective into how he got started into a life of giving to charities and people in need. In addition, Claude develops some of the story behind the creation of the Life on Life Initiative, as well as highlights the Literacy Center that All Grace Outreach is now supporting in Eastern Canada. Read on to learn how you can join this movement as Life Leadership sets people free in numerous ways across the globe!
Life Leadership Supports Literacy through the Life on Life Initiative
Many of you have heard of the Life on Life Initiative that we have launched at the Life corp. I’m very excited about this and wanted to give you some insight on how I’m working it into my life. In 2007, when I became business partners with Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady I learned that they had a charitable foundation called All Grace Outreach.
All Grace Outreach (AGO) is a Christian charitable organization committed to helping those in need. Its main focus is spreading the gospel throughout the world, and helping abused, abandoned, and distressed children and widows.
When I first began donating, I did it in small amounts. At first, I just gave on Sunday mornings at the nondenominational services that we have at our Leadership Conventions. As time went on, I became increasingly interested in giving and serving more. As I learned more about Orrin and Chris, I continued to believe in who they were and what they believed.
A few years ago, I was asked to sit on the board at AGO and take some responsibility for dispersing funds. I take this obligation seriously and am diligent about who I give money to. Recently the AGO board members realized that AGO could do more and serve more if it had someone to drive it forward. At the time we were coming to this realization, Chris Swanson popped up. I will do another blog post just on Chris in the next few days, but in short, he is amazing and will do amazing things for AGO. I feel great being a part of AGO and hope to continue to be permitted to serve on its board.
Over the years, I have given money to many different causes, with no rhyme or reason. Sometimes the right person asked, and other times my heart was feeling generous; whether it was sponsoring local hockey teams or slipping some cash to a teenage couple that was surprised with the news that they were pregnant. Sometimes it was faith-based, like local churches or mission trips; and sometimes it wasn’t faith-based at all, like kids showing up at my door to be sponsored or to sell apples or cookies. I have a rule of thumb: if a kid knocks at my door, I buy everything that they are selling!
As I sit here and write this, I’m actually remembering all of the places, people, or causes that I have given money to; and in a selfish prideful moment, I’m feeling kind of proud of it. I have never actually sat down and made a list or tried to remember them all; but as I sit here now and make a mental list, I am mildly impressed with myself. That said, I wasn’t very organized in how I gave—I just gave.
I also really developed a preference for giving anonymously. I don’t know why I took a fondness to it so much. It just feels great giving and not expecting any glory or anything in return. The second best is when you give, and only you and the people that you’re giving to know about it. I like the feeling I get when I give and very few people know. It’s almost like it’s proof that I’m doing it for the right reasons. I’m in no way trying to highlight my charitable history, but instead I’m trying to outline how I’ve given in the past…with no real direction.
Every year, my wife, Lana, likes to participate in an Angel Tree program. The Angel Tree program is run across the globe, with many different local sponsors. Its aim is to supply gifts and food bank supplies to children and adults during the holiday season. When you select an “angel,” you are given the age and gender of the child or adult that you have chosen to shop for–so that you can try to make the gift as personal as possible. The Enfield Angel Tree Food Bank runs an Angel Tree program, if you’re in the Nova Scotia area and looking to find out more.
Lana’s contribution to the Angel Tree program started when we were incredibly broke. We didn’t buy gifts for each other for many years, but she would take a couple of the Angel Tree angels and buy gifts for a few kids. It started with one, then a few, and I think this year she will do over one hundred children. She makes it a lot of fun and takes some of our friends along with her. They’re all so excited to buy gifts for children that they will never even meet.
I envied the simplicity and impact of her effort, and I tried to do a few things like it. I wanted to buy turkeys and give them to families in need during the holidays, but you wouldn’t believe the red tape involved in that. Next, I decided I would roam the supermarkets the weeks before Christmas and buy groceries for people when they approached the till. (I was asked to leave a few stores.) Last year, while I was driving with Wyatt to buy gifts for his Mom, I saw people on the sidewalks asking for spare change. I looked at Wyatt and started pulling up beside anyone I saw begging and gave them each a 50-dollar bill. It was a rush, but I saw many leave their corner almost immediately. Hopefully they went for a meal or warmer clothing, but I suspect some of them went to buy drugs or alcohol.
Essentially, I haven’t been that organized when giving money away. I thought about starting my own charitable organization, but it seemed like a lot of work that someone could do better and more efficiently than I could. Plus–though I’ve seen others handle their charities with class and no ego and it’s their personal passion–I saw many other people who were seeking glory more for themselves than to really make a difference; and I didn’t want that accusation ever leveled at me.
With AGO, I feel like I am doing the Lord’s work. That said, I feel as I’ve been blessed so much that I still have more privilege to give. My sons are two and four, and they will grow up with a blessed life, but I want to teach them to work, not to earn, but to work to learn and to work to serve.
By setting this as an example, and by serving others, it teaches the principles I want them to learn. The only problem was, though I knew I wanted to serve and contribute, I didn’t yet have a cause that stirred my soul.
I sit in my office, surrounded by all the books that I have read. I don’t like putting books on my shelf that I haven’t read. So if you see it on my shelf, I have read that book. I humbly acknowledge the impact that associating myself with all of these magnificent authors has had on me. I know that I get to live the lifestyle I have today, and provide for my family the way I can, because of what I have learned through my reading over the years.
I always believed that a man who can read and doesn’t is as disadvantaged as the man who cannot read. With that thought, my heart began to stir and I realized that I had found a cause I could pour my heart and soul (and effort and money) into.
I quickly called Chris and Orrin and began asking them questions about how to go about chasing this new dream. To my surprise, the same thoughts had been brewing in their minds. Life Leadership helps a small hard-working group of focused people create financial freedom. We help the majority of people get debt-free and lead better lives, but we were missing the disenfranchised and disadvantaged. After discussing this, the founders decided that the literacy cause lined up with our core values and also was in line with what we do at Life Leadership. We want to give back in the markets we operate in, not just with AGO, but also in a way that helps anyone from any belief system, race, ethnic group, etc.
We started taking a portion of the profit from each Life Leadership subscription and putting it towards supporting the Life on Life Initiative. The first organization we supported was in North Carolina where our head office is located. Now we are ready to branch out.
I am excited to support this as a Life Leadership founder, of course. I’m ready to collaborate with organizations and utilize Life Leadership resources to serve and make the biggest impact possible. I am also excited to personally contribute my time, money, and influence to support this cause.
In the Nova Scotia area, we are thrilled to announce that we’ll be contributing and supporting Literacy Nova Scotia.
The goal of Literacy Nova Scotia is to “work to ensure that all Nova Scotians have equal access to quality literacy, essential skills, and lifelong learning opportunities.”
Literacy Nova Scotia has a respect for all of its members in their learning communities. They are actively moving forward to help these learners reach their goals and fulfill their potential. They’re ready to help all learners, and they respect individuality, culture, and diversity.
They’re responsible with their funds, and I feel confident that by donating to Literacy Nova Scotia, we can help to make a difference in our local area.
This week, November 1-7, is Literacy Action Week. During this week, there are information sessions and other activities held across NS. In addition, literacy-related meetings are held with government officials. The goal of this week is to share information and support adult literacy across our province and local communities.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LifeonLife, #LiteracyChangesLives, and #LAW2015 so that we can see your pictures! You can tag me on Twitter and Facebook, and be sure to tag and follow Literacy Nova Scotia, as well.
I’ll be posting another blog in the coming days, which will give you more information on Literacy Nova Scotia and the awesome impact that they’ve had in NS.
One of the biggest and rarest assets that Life Leadership has in its back pocket is that the Life Leadership founders decided to stay in the field. Whether on or off stage, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and set an incredible example to follow. Thank you, Claude, for inspiring many with your story. The challenge to make a difference is live. Let’s go out and pay it forward today!