Let’s Create a Different World (Compassion International)

SAMPLE Funding Appeal (Speech: 8-10 minutes)
This funding appeal was delivered at over a dozen events, with a combined audience of 1,000+

Let’s Create a Different World (Compassion International)

I heard a lot about poverty growing up. Helping the poor was something we did when we could. My background was modest enough to feel to pain of not having enough, so when someone had a need and we were able to share, we did. But there was always a bit of a disconnect between “us” and “them.” There was a level of pride in being the ones to give help instead of receiving it. Not because we didn’t need help from time to time, but because we didn’t usually admit when we did. 

I remember the day it finally sank in that poverty has little to do with money. Poverty is better explained as a lack of options. Let me explain by telling you a story. 

I was down in the Dominican Republic several years ago. Traveling with a group, we were on a bus, maneuvering our way over this winding road on the side of a mountain. One of the tour guides motioned to the mountain as we passed. “These houses have all been rebuilt,” he said. “They were washed away in the hurricane last year.” 

The houses were small tin shacks. They had no foundations, and they looked about as sturdy as you would imagine a tin shack to be. They reminded me of a row of dominoes – or rather, zigzagging lines of dominoes. I imagined that if you knocked one over, all the rest would follow. 

Later that evening, as we were eating dinner, a man joined us who looked to be in his early forties. He was accompanied by an adorable little 4-year-old girl. He proudly introduced us to his daughter. And then he told us his story. 

He had lived in that community of shacks up on the side of the mountain we had passed earlier in the day. His house had been washed away in last year’s storms. He had been home with his son and daughter when the rains started. One by one, the houses began to collapse. As the water rose, the man grabbed a hold of both his children and started to dogpaddle, struggling to keep their heads above water. 

This continued for an hour. Then another hour. And another. Finally, six hours later, the young father, past the point of exhaustion, came to a realization. 

If he kept holding both of his children, they would all drown. The only way even one could be saved was if he let one go. 

Tears poured down his face. We were crying too. 

This is the kind of decision no parent should ever have to face. And please understand me when I say, this choice was forced upon him by poverty. He worked. He had dedicated his life to building the best life he could for his young children. But the work available to him didn’t pay enough for anything more than a tin shack on the side of a mountain. It didn’t pay enough for him to feed his children more than once or twice a day. He didn’t have access to education, to childcare, or the other resources he would need to help him change his situation. 

This is poverty – and it’s ugly.  

The room was quiet after our friend finished his story. He picked up his daughter and hugged her tightly, tears still streaming down his face. He missed his son, he said simply. He loved his son, so very much, and he would do anything to get him back. 

Let me ask you something, my friends: Is it inevitable that we live in a world like this? How do we break poverty and its grip on the people it seeks to destroy? How do we ensure that parents, men and women like this young father, are not forced into making these types of decisions?

We don’t break poverty with money – not specifically. Yes, ultimately, the work needs resources, and that includes money. But money isn’t the point, and alone, it’s never enough. 

You break the power of poverty by providing hope, and hope is wrapped up in providing options – choices – that individuals can make that will change their situation for the better. 

Hope comes in many forms. At its most basic level, it’s an experience you can see, taste, touch, envision, an experience that shows you that life can change – that life can be better – for you. That last part is critically important. In a world where being invisible is often safer than being seen, you must believe that the hope of a different future is not only possible, but that it is possible for you.

To break poverty, you need to show up, every day, prepared to do really hard work. You need a team of people surrounding you who are pulling for you, equipping you, and cheering you on. This work can’t be done in isolation. Your support network needs to be sufficiently resourced, which means financially resourced, properly trained, and committed. You break poverty by actively demonstrating that there are other ways of existing in the world, and then connecting people to available resources so they can make their own choices to take advantage of those resources and change their situation. 

This is why I love organizations like Compassion International. Compassion is a holistic child development organization providing direct services to over two million children in over twenty countries. They embody all of these concepts. Yes, they have to be resourced to do the work, and I am unabashedly here to ask you to partner with them. But the point isn’t the money. 

Let me say that again. The point isn’t the money. 

The point is to continually build, strengthen, and sustain an incredible network of professionals and non-professionals who invest, day after day, in activities and practices that dismantle poverty’s power. 

I’ve been a donor and supporter of Compassion International for over 15 years. I applaud their continued dedication to breaking the cycle of poverty that has created a closed-loop system imprisoning individuals and communities, often for generations. 

If you have more than you need, enough to share, would you consider sharing with someone who has less than what they need? Would you make a donation to Compassion today to support their work?

Compassion is committed to the communities where they work. In fact, they employ people who are local to those communities. Theirs isn’t a savior complex. They want to resource people who are already invested in their own communities and ready to see their communities transformed. 

Compassion began working in the Dominican community where that young father lived, the one who lost his son in the floods. They helped him find a job that paid a little more, offered support to his daughter through child development programming and supplementary meals, and provided emotional support as he grieved and rebuilt his life. Compassion’s local staff became that young father’s support network, and they’re still there, cheering him on, connecting him with new resources and new options. 

Would you join me in changing the world we live in? I want to live in a world where no father, no parent, ever has to lose a child the way that young Dominican father did. We are better than that. We can create a world that’s better than that. 

If you have more than you need, would you share and make a donation to Compassion International today

Thank you.   

A Weekend in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon Neighborhood

If you’re looking for the perfect place to spend a weekend, look no further than Baltimore’s own Mt. Vernon neighborhood. Home to gems like The Walters Art Museum, An Die Musik and Marie Louise Bistro, you can easily create a weekend to remember. Use the options below to create your own customized itinerary. 

FRIDAY EVENING

Check in to your hotel. Mt. Vernon offers an array of boutique hotels, each with its own culture, history, and architecture. Several popular hotel chains are also located within easy walking distance. For a seamless weekend, choose a hotel near Mt. Vernon Place and walk or Uber to nearby attractions.

Hotel Revival Baltimore bills itself as Baltimore’s only boutique art hotel. The historic establishment is in a superb location at the heart of Mt. Vernon. It offers a beautiful rooftop bar and dining experience at Topside, private karaoke rooms (yes, you read that right), and custom artwork throughout the hotel. 

Hotel Indigo Baltimore Downtown is a local jewel positioned within easy walking distance of the city’s finest music and theater venues, including Baltimore Center Stage and An Die Musik. Poets Modern Cocktails & Eats offers a fine happy hour and delicious crab cakes. They recently introduced Xander, their resident canine, and the hotel is proudly pet-friendly. 

If hosteling is more your style, HI Baltimore Hostel offers a great opportunity to interact with other out-of-town guests. A lobby with multiple fireplaces, game room, and free continental breakfast all offer the chance to make new friends. You’ll be within easy walking distance of the Baltimore Basilica, America’s first cathedral, and the delightful Cazbar, offering Turkish fare and belly dance performances. 

Choose a dinner location. Here are a few of our personal favorites, all located a short walk away:

Sammy’s Trattoria offers southern Italian cuisine and wine pairings. You can rent out sections of the restaurant or the whole venue. The menu is offered two ways: individual or family style. 

The Brewer’s Art is one of the fancier restaurants in the neighborhood. Grab a drink at the upstairs or downstairs bar, then settle in for an evening of inspired cuisine that’s sure to be Instagram friendly. 

Cazbar is Baltimore’s first Turkish restaurant. They offer an extensive menu that’s sure to impress. Make your reservations online, and check on the current list of showtimes for their weekend belly dance performances.

Not ready for the night to end? Enjoy a glass of wine or a late night cocktail at one of the neighborhood’s cocktail bars or wine tasting rooms. Spirits of Mt. Vernon, Sugarvale, and The Owl Bar are popular.

SATURDAY MORNING

If you’re an early bird or just feeling adventurous, join Free Yoga at Mt Vernon Place @ 8:30am every Saturday (weather permitting). Bring your own yoga mat. 

Grab breakfast at your hotel or a local cafe. We recommend Marie Louise Bistro for French pastries and coffee, or you can grab a seat and order from their full breakfast menu. Baby’s on Fire is another great spot for coffee and a light breakfast.

See one or both of these beautiful Mt. Vernon establishments with the remainder of your morning:

The Walters Art Museum is FREE and one of the finest art collections on the East Coast. Each floor offers a new experience, from 19th century images of French gardens to rare religious artifacts. Don’t miss the stunning collection of paintings on the 4th floor. 

George Peabody Library is referred to as Baltimore’s “Cathedral of Books” and is among the most beautiful libraries in the world. Make sure to plan your visit ahead of time as the library has limited weekend hours and is sometimes reserved for private events. 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON

Grab a quick lunch at Mt. Vernon Marketplace. With over a dozen local vendors offering freshly prepared artisanal food, you’ll have options of cuisine from all over the world offered at prices that won’t break the bank.

After lunch, walk next door to Ceremony Coffee Roasters for an afternoon caffeine fix. Their nitro brew is to die for, or try any of their roasts from around the world.

If you like walking or just want to see the infamous Inner Harbor, now is the perfect time for the short, one-mile walk down Charles Street. You can also hail Lyft or Uber for a small fee. At the Inner Harbor, you’ll find plenty of options for ways to spend the afternoon. Maryland Science Center, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, and the world renowned National Aquarium can keep you busy for hours. If you want to extend your time outside, follow the waterfront path all the way from the Inner Harbor to Canton. Bikes and scooters can be rented if you don’t want to walk the whole way. Boat cruise companies also offer tourism packages, from short 45-minute excursions to dinner aboard during sunset. You can reserve your tickets ahead of time or book at the harbor.

If you’d like to stay in Mt. Vernon for the afternoon, a stop by these local landmarks is a must:

The first Washington Monument. You’ve probably already walked past it, but have you been to the gallery inside, or climbed the 227 steps to the top? This was the original Washington Monument, built before the similar (but larger) one located on the National Mall in nearby Washington, DC. 

Maryland Historical Society Museum & Library. Maryland’s oldest continually operating cultural institution, the library’s 7 million+ items include Francis Scott Key’s original manuscript of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The Baltimore Basilica, with the recent addition of the Pope John Paul II Prayer Garden, was the first Catholic Cathedral built in America. Visit on your own or take a guided tour. A donation of $5 or more is requested but not required. 

Join Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Literary Walking Tour ($10). View the tour map to see the current list of stops. Plan ahead; tours are offered approximately one weekend per month. 

SATURDAY EVENING

Schedule your evening to include dinner and a show. Mt. Vernon is home to amazing theater and concert venues.

For dinner, consider Kumari Restaurant & Bar, Iggies, or The Owl Bar.

Kumari Restaurant & Bar offers some of the best Indian & Nepalese cuisine you can find in Baltimore. Make a reservation ahead of time on their website and, while you’re there, peruse their extensive menu and photo gallery. 

Iggies Pizza is pizza “made with love,” and it shows in every bite. BYOB for a cheap, delicious evening out. 

The Owl Bar, located in the Belvedere Hotel, is a popular hangout spot and, according to local folk lore, it’s haunted. For a true Maryland culinary experience, try the crab dip or crap cake sandwich. On a Saturday night, reservations are recommended. 

Your Saturday evening won’t be complete without enjoying a live show. Baltimore has a thriving arts scene, and Mt. Vernon offers some of the best venues in the city.

Baltimore Center Stage curates an incredible list of performances each season and it shows – they welcome nearly 100,000 visitors annually. A full bar and snacks are available.

Eubie Blake National Jazz Institute & Cultural Center. Concerts are offered several nights each week, and drinks and dinner are available on-site. 

An Die Musik is a classical, jazz, and world music concert venue. The venue is old, the tickets are cheap, and the drinks are cheaper, but don’t let that fool you. The venue has incredible acoustics and great performers.

Round out your evening with a late night cocktail at one of the area’s rooftop bars: Topside at Hotel Revival, or the LB Skybar at Lord Baltimore Hotel. Reservations are suggested.

SUNDAY BRUNCH

Wrap up your weekend with a lazy Sunday morning that includes a stroll around Mount Vernon. Enjoy the mix of architectural influences in the neighborhood, including the gothic Mount Vernon United Methodist Church

Enjoy Sunday brunch at one of these locally owned and operated cafes: 

Cafe Fili is “a gathering place for friends” and offers a fresh take on Mediterranean cuisine. After your meal, don’t forget the baklava

Ida B’s Table is a short walk away and offers modern soul food in a space that feels like classic Baltimore. Where else will you find Octopus Po’Boy Sliders

Dooby’s, a Baltimore staple, is a Korean-inspired cafe. The pork buns are a favorite, and the rest of the menu features everything from Eggs Benedict to Korean BBQ cheesesteaks.  

COME BACK AGAIN! 

We hope you enjoyed your weekend in Baltimore’s charming Mt. Vernon neighborhood. Come back and visit us again soon!