Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Business of Giving : Purpose + Passion


I had an epiphany a few years ago and I realized that while I love creating and want people to enjoy it it wasn't enough to drive me. With Ashleigh Corrin I hope to not only be successful but significant, and the best way I understood to do this was by combining my passion with my purpose.

Growing up I noticed the little ways that my mom and dad gave. Whether it was through tithes and offering, donating, or helping a family member or friend, they made it a habit to offer some of what they had to God and others. At the time I didn't realize how these actions would affect my way of thinking about money, my earnings, gifts/talents, dedicating my hands/eyes/feet, etc. But through their fearless faith and humility I saw that the money I make and the gifts that I have aren't to be used for myself or my own glory alone, but for others as well.

When I was sixteen I went on a mission trip to St. Vincent, West Indies, and it was during this time that I realized what my purpose is here on earth. At some point during the trip I was asked by one of our leaders if I knew what my purpose was, and I had no clue how to answer this question or what they meant by it. But upon return after doing some reflection and talking with someone else who had gone on the trip with the group, they expressed that my actions revealed a heart with intent to serve.

I'm always learning what serving can mean and what form of action it can take. I'd consider myself an ambivert, and over the years it has taken more self-reflection and confidence building to act on these things that are on my heart. But I've realized that when I can deal with a situation through an attitude of servitude I am able to look beyond myself and see and better understand the bigger picture.

So since that time when I realized what my purpose was, I figured that I would be happiest in life combining my gifts with my purpose and prayed for opportunities where I could use my art to serve. I can't deny that there are countless opportunities I have missed or did not take advantage of, mostly because of fear. But now that I have taken this step in starting a business, I want to ensure that I give and serve in a way that I have always hoped.


In the initial planning stages of Ashleigh Corrin I had this idea of giving a percentage of earnings to support various organizations and causes. Since receiving my business license, registering my trade name, and launching my site in November, I realized that doing this may be a little more challenging than I had expected. With each sale I feel a mix of elation and fear, wondering if I'll make my "dream sale numbers" and ultimately how I'll be able to fulfill this duty of mine.

So as fear arises, praying and planning comes in.

After having conversations with friends and family I began to accept that things may not play out in the exact way or at the time I expected but as I'm learning more in this current season (of my business) there are ways to make it work.
I've stopped worrying (as much) about what I don't have and focusing more on how to work with what I do have. These few things have helped me breathe a little:  1) If I don't have the monetary means to give at this time, I can give my hands and my time by volunteering; 2) If I only have a penny or $10 to give I should just give it. If this is an important aspect of my business I should start now in whatever way I can to make this a habit and get myself in the right mindset; 3) While planning and hard work will get me far, tending to my relationships with family, friends, myself, new connections and God are equally/more important.

So I just want to be open and share with you my process of figuring this out. I'll also be sharing some of my experiences to highlight some organizations and provide resources in case you're looking for places/ways to serve as well.

And please know that I'm open to any suggestions, ideas, advice, etc. that you may have to offer. Email: :)

- -  Below are a few things I've worked on and places I've volunteered since November - -

DC|GO of DC Metro Church
On the DC|GO site you'll find a Community Event Registration and Volunteer Information Service. You can see a list of their upcoming opportunities here.

Casa Chirilagua 
Mission: "Casa Chirilagua is a community of people 'learning together to love their neighbors as themselves' in a latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia, called Chirilagua. We are a Christian faith-based not-for-profit outreach that seeks to develop relationships with families to see the Chirilagua neighborhood transformed by Christ."

In November I signed up for a small event through DC|GO, stuffing envelopes for Casa Chirilagua. There were four middle school girls there from the neighborhood, and 6 of us working with them to stuff hundreds of envelopes. The girls were so sweet and funny, and told me a bit more about the organization and some of the things they do in it. I enjoyed the time of fellowship, and found it humbling and inspiring learning about the lives and experiences of those in this community and how it all got started.

Little Lights Urban Ministries in Washington D.C.
Mission: "To empower under-served youth and families in Washington, DC with the love of Christ. We seek to develop their God-given potential spiritually, socially, and intellectually through academics, life skills, the arts, and discipleship."

From November to mid-December I helped with LLUM's "Reading Heroes" program. I'd go once a week on Tuesdays after work and tutor a young girl for an hour. They have many other programs with descriptions here. The group that came to mentor during these nights was a diverse one, varying in age and ethnicity, but it seemed that most were students/young adults. Everyone was nice and the kids were characters! I loved spending that time with my student. While doing this I realized how easy it is to get caught up in our own lives, and how nice it is to get out and learn about someone else — especially kids. I got to know her and understand her and her world and get outside of my own. And I was just happy to be there to talk, work with her through her assignments and be there to assist her and the others in any way needed.

Photo: joy's hope

Blessing Bags
On Facebook my mom shared this post about these blessing bags to keep in your car to give out when you come across someone on the street that may be in need of a few basic necessities. There's a list at the link of items to possibly put inside of them, but you can use whatever you think would be best.

I used a percentage of my sales from December and put together a few bags for my car. Several items came from the travel-size section at Target and others I was able to buy in bulk — like food items — and split them between each bag I had. I'm not sure if these will come in handy or if I'll just end up giving them to a local shelter, but we'll see. I'm thinking I can continue to add a few more items to the ones that I have since I wasn't able to get as much as I wish I could have from the list. And since it's cold out I'd like to add a few things that'll help keep warm.

- - - - - -  Some motivating verses during this time - - - - - -

Psalm 4:5
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:7
Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Proverbs 11:24
One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want

Deuteronomy 16:17
Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.