Friday, December 7, 2012

The "Ah" Factor

Every now and then I get an email from a disability non profit. Somebody there had seen a video about me and decided to get in touch to see if we can do something together. I have never seen myself as somebody particularly amazing, and it's not my place to judge. I can see how a story of a person like me, someone who despite a fairly debilitating condition moved from a foreign country, got an education in a pretty respected condition may seem attractive. And I'm always willing to help. A lot of organizations that decide to drop me an email deal with children. Some employ the same forms of education and therapies I've been through. To them having me on board has the "before and after" quality, that gives parents hope they need to see that even though you have Cerebral Palsy with the right amount of work you can get out into the world, hasve goals, get a career, be independent. I have also not seen very many people who talk about the experiences of growing up with my disability. What it was like having some of those things done on them and to them, what their perspective, their take on it was. What is it like for them today, what they took from it twenty, twenty five years later. People like me exist and it's not like one day you simply not have Cerebral Palsy, but I never hear about them and from them. Dealing with Hungarian Conductors, I've realized why it's  useful to them for somebody to tell the tale.

Organizations do contact me from time to time, but their interest is short lived. A lot of times initially, they message me about "inspiration" and "changing the world", but as soon as I ask, great, what would you have me do? The contact ends. And I wondered why that is. I'm thinking a lot of those structures are small and local, formed to do something good, that get excited about my story and write on impulse. They really don't have any designs on me, most often it feels they barely have ideas for their own existence. I think some of them may have changed their mind, with others the excitement died down or they might have gotten embarrassed that they don't have any ideas or anything to offer or in some cases that they've been stringing be along for weeks. It's odd but a lot of times there's not even a follow up response and that's the only way I can explain it. I hope it's not intentional. I guess many people in their original mindset think that I can generate instant publicity for their organization. I'm a foreigner, I have a respectable profession, I have a life story with twists and turns, I have a disability that people often look down upon, that's an instant press tour and people will open up their wallets when they meet me, right? Wrong. If you have problems generating donations and verbalizing your own mission I probably can't fix it and make it all go away. I think that's what the expectation is- to revitalize interest in their cause and magically make their issues go away through interest in my story. But I was not even able to do it for myself, by myself. Building a nonprofit is not a problem. You can put together the paperwork fairly quickly, you just do it online. It's knowing how you want to go about it, having a plan, getting the right resources.Don't expect for it to solve itself later. It's heart breaking, because those thing get started out of need for solution, kindness and drive and willingness to help . And I'm not knocking that, but it's not enough  A lot of people have started foundations with no way to run it, hoping that opportunities will emerge later. If they don't the organization is there, but really isn't. In stasis, as it waits for better times. My story is not one that gets people really excited. The media don't find me that attractive and don't really know how to bite it. It's more of a "Ah, interesting" type of a tale, rather than one that gives me standing applause when I tell it. I'm not making headlines, I'm not writing a book. But it does make people stop and think, if only for a minute.   Simply put- if you expect it to be all about it me, it is not going to work. If there's an actual purpose for me, a team of people I can join and a thought through concept that uses both my experiences and skills then  I do want to hear about it. Because the reasons for why people start nonprofits come out of real problems. And I always wanted to be part of the solution.

No comments:

Post a Comment