January 2023 – Jennifer McKinney

How to Gain Clarity
There are many things we were not taught. Many things we are learning and passing on to the next generation. Things like letting go of perfectionism; how to work with our emotions; how important things like our thoughts and words actually are, and how to find clarity on what we truly want. These have been learned through self-exploration, but never through traditional streams of education, and often not even from our parents and guardians who were not taught these skills.

We are at the beginning of a calendar year, which often elicits goals of taking advantage of a fresh start. We set intentions for what we want to invite in throughout the new year, but as we also now know, for greatest results, setting the intention takes some strategy. If we align ourselves more with the seasonal calendar, winter is the first step in creating intentions for the upcoming cycle.

In winter we slow down and go inwards. We meditate on what the previous year brought us; we explore our role in the outcomes we received; we peel back what may have been getting in the way, and we get CLEAR on what seeds we want to plant for the new year. This work requires bravery. It requires a season of pause before “springing” into the next goal. Slowing down is a big part of the phase of winter, giving more time for reflecting and processing the previous cycles. Slowing down allows you to notice what is and isn’t working. For this, finding frequent moments of peace, digital detoxes, meditation and prayer allow you to cut through the constant stimulation that is our current experience as humans. You have to knowingly wade into the noise, sit in it and allow the noise to settle around you to find the gems of truth that are always there below the chaos.

 

Questions to ponder in the peaceful moments: Reminder: You have all winter to explore these questions.
● How satisfied am I? (Apply to specific topic or keep it general)
● How do I want to feel this year?
● When I look through the lens of God/My Highest Self/Love, what do I see for myself this year? What is their vision for me?
● What is keeping me from moving forward? Where is there lots of struggle?
● What drains my energy most?
● What currently makes me feel alive?

The next layer to finding clarity for your new year is to express what you found in the quiet. Write it down, speak it out loud, create art with it as your muse, move your body to reflect the truths. Let it flow through and out of you, and then, pause again. Repeat the process a few times, exploring different things. After the introspection, after the expression, you digest. You tend to what needs healing, you rest and you
revisit the expressive creations frequently, adding layers if you feel it’s needed, possibly getting additional support for moments that feel too deep for self exploration. There tends to be a lot of letting go and accepting what is, hopefully from a place of love and understanding for the human experience. Then, as if suddenly, you begin to see, you begin to feel what’s needed next. Slowly and simply you start to make a game plan for the next season, spring. You start to gather new tools and teachers; you invest in creating change; you build momentum in the form of foundational habits and small tweaks throughout the winter months. When spring rolls around, you are ready to spring into further action.

Clarity thru Crave
Big goals and projects may take many cycles before the momentum is there and this is very normal. Building a business, changing your habits, learning new skills all take years. This is why allowing plenty of time to reflect and get clear is so important … otherwise it is very easy to get lost in the weeds. It’s as if the moments of inner work are equivalent to pulling the weeds of your metaphoric garden, clearing all the stuff that became overgrown or neglected throughout the year. When I think about my time with Crave one of the biggest benefits was the space to dig deep and get clear on what I wanted to create. I had the idea of an online wellness program, but the project seemed too daunting. I lacked clarity. The workshops, the time to brainstorm with a trusted group, the professionals I got to meet and learn from through Crave were a very crucial part of the final product that will actually launch this SPRING!!! Five years in the making and it all started with the mindful mapping of Crave activities that unveiled my vision.

Forever grateful,

Jennifer McKinney, Crave I Leader

 

Foundational Fitness Online Wellness

 


December 2022 – Rev. Shelly Denmark

Reflections on Crave Class V 

We broke some records this year…they didn’t receive the kind of attention that Noah Lyles did (deservedly so), but they were important for the future of Crave. This year we had not only 1, but 2 family teams as Crave Leaders. It was inspiring to watch The Bishops and Team Lewis leverage their unique gifts as family units to better serve each of their organizations. And they set a precedent…we have a mother-daughter team who applied for the next Cohort. We appreciate both of these families letting us learn together as we tried something new.

We also started out with the largest Cohort Crave has ever had! And while a couple of our wonderful leaders had to step away for personal and work reasons, the Cohort still kept in touch with them, found ways to care for them, and collaborate on projects together. That is the mark of an intentional community. 

Class V set the bar for the most money contributed towards Crave…and I know they will continue in that spirit of generosity as they engage and participate in our Alumni community. They are the spark that helped us get better organized to ensure we are meeting our Alumni’s ongoing needs.

Now for some individual gratitudes…

Seven was a sponge this year in Crave, soaking up all that he could learn and apply towards making Las Semillas the most impactful it can be. He is a deeply compassionate human who shares all of his resources to make sure that vulnerable members in his community have what they need. The world desperately needs more leaders like him, and I am grateful to have journeyed with him and witness his pure goodness lighten up the world!

Seven Charlestin of Las Semillas

Caleb is one of the best conversation partners I have ever had! He is what they call an “old soul,” wise beyond his years. I witnessed a consistent selflessness in him and a deep desire to offer encouragement and inspiration to those who need it most. It’s like a sixth sense in him! I am grateful for his generosity, and I look forward to many more life-changing discussions to come!

Caleb Hylton, Crave V Leader
Caleb Hylton of XponentialCZN

 

I witnessed a complete 180-turn in Shala this year! From shedding tears together over her story when we first met, to watching her confidently navigate ribbon-cuttings, fundraisers, and grant-writing…she is a powerhouse! I believe this journey has encouraged and empowered her to step fully into who she is uniquely gifted to be as a leader and a model for the girls and young women she is serving. I can’t wait to see her continue to shine!

Shala Edwards of Treasure Coast Girls Coalition

 

Lo-Ammi demonstrated such courage this year! Moving from the familiar to the unknown, a bustling metropolitan city to a more rural area, from one job to the next and to the next — he never let fear keep him from taking the next best step forward. And now, he is in the perfect place…giving back to his alma mater, influencing young minds and hearts, and finding supportive community in the midst of it. I am grateful that he radiated light and positivity with us, and he chose the right name for his foundation because he IS greater!

 

Lo-Ammi Richardson of I AM Greater Foundation

 

Pastor Lewis is the epitome of focused leadership. He knows exactly what God has called him to do, and he doesn’t let distractions, obstacles, or frustrations steer him away from that path. I am grateful for the spiritual maturity he bestowed upon us and for sharing his story so authentically and freely. 

Antoniah, brilliance and humility – what a perfect pairing, and that is exactly who she is! She takes time to consider and then contribute, and we are all left better for having communed with her. I am grateful for her vulnerability and how she is always willing to share what is on her heart.

I don’t think anyone participated in more Crave opportunities than Edrewnae! She took on this journey with joy, gentle curiosity, and a clear love of learning and sharing with others. I am grateful for her consistent encouragement and for being the rock I know she is for her family. I want to be like her when I grow up!

Antoniah, Edrewnae, and Anthony Lewis of Ray of Light Ministries

 

I look at Keisha’s travel schedule, events, workshops, and dedication to her grown children and think “how on earth does she do it?” She is a shining example of perseverance and strength, which motivates those around her to keep on keeping on. I am grateful for how she reached out to me when I needed a wise and empathetic listener, and I look forward to growing our friendship!

Mark entered spaces and made everyone feel welcome, seen, and included. He was always ready to learn from others, and like Edrewnae, he was consistently one of the first to show up and one of the last to leave our sessions. I am grateful for his servant leadership that he taught each of us, and I look forward to witnessing how the Lyles’ Brothers Sports Foundation grows with him at the helm!

Keisha and Mark Bishop of Lyles Brothers Sports Foundation

November 2022 – Rev. Matthew Kern

Death, it seems, is fertile ground for new life.

This observation doesn’t come from abstract thought but is something I happen to witness on a near-daily basis in my line of work. As a hospice chaplain I am welcomed into a sacred yet admittedly particular space in the lives of others – namely, at the end of life. I join patients and their loved ones in the final stretch of life, journeying with them from the familiarity of this life to the mystery and promise that lie beyond it. However, what seems like a definitive end seems to sometimes also serve as the genesis of something new in the making. This looks like…

  • a patient with a terminal diagnosis engaging in a meaningful life review and, in the process, engage themselves in a way never done before; 
  • family members finding new ways to organize and rally themselves for a new reality moving forward without their departing loved one;
  • the blossoming of a peace, serenity, and/or contentment in the one passing away that, even if for the last season of life, is life-giving in itself.

While I will confess my surprise to see so many beginnings showing up in the midst of loss, I must also admit I really shouldn’t be that surprised at all. This rhythm of gaining in losing, receiving in letting go, yes even life coming forth from death is what Jesus called to our attention – not as new ‘rules’ to live by but an invitation to enter into the flow of the Universe that is always giving new life.  

Crave works in the midst of the many forms of death that exist in our society. For those whose hope seems to have died, whose windows of opportunity seem to have passed away, whose trust in the prospect of a better future has long been buried six feet down, I see Crave and its leaders serving as agents of that new life that springs forth in the midst of so much loss. It is you, Crave, that are harbingers of that something new coming forth from the loss of the old. I can say this so confidently because I lived it through Crave itself. 

At a time of very real loss and personal deaths of sorts, Crave invited me to experience something new in the midst of what was falling away from my own life.  Joining the first Sanford cohort, I was given the opportunity to find new meaning out of old broken dreams, community out of places of solitude, and in a proverbial yet very real way, life out of death.

Death is an end, no doubt…but do not ever forget it also serves as rich soil for new things to spring forth. Continue to be that new thing in this world, Crave.

 

Rev. Matthew Kern

Crave Sanford I


October 2022 – Shala Edwards

The minutiae of running a nonprofit organization: 5 Greatest Challenges In Nonprofit Management 
 

My name is Shala Edwards, and I am a growing social entrepreneur committed to young women and girls’ empowerment, civic engagement, and economic development. As Founder and Executive Director of Treasure Coast Girls Coalition Inc, development director, and professional speaker, I inspire people to lead, serve, and make their mark on the world. Over the past nine years, my professional experience includes roles such as grant writer, digital literacy specialist, and social media marketer. 

This week, I was feeling overwhelmed by the volume of work required to run a non-for-profit. I made a list of all of the items on my to-do list right now, and discovered they fall into 5 categories:

  1. Fundraising: It’s scary and there’s lots of uncertainty. We need seed-funding. We need to secure unrestricted and ongoing funding. We need monthly donors. We have to explore the various giving platforms, and learn how to apply for grants. We have to create – and stick to – a budget. We have to save for capital expenditures for vehicles and buildings. Running a nonprofit is an arduous effort, not unlike running a for-profit business! 
  2. Hiring staff/finding volunteers: Building human capital and attracting the right people who are committed to furthering the mission is probably the biggest job. We are looking for people who have shared core values and a common vision about our organization. To build a culture and sense of community with all staff and volunteers is vital to the success of any organization, takes intentionality, and a lot of thinking and planning. 
  3. Establishing a sound board structure: How do you determine who has the final say? As Founder and CEO it has been primarily my responsibility to make final decisions. With the establishment of a Board of Directors, some who are new to our mission and community, I find the need to establish decision-making guidelines, so the guidance and assessment of community and client needs are considered first. 
  4. Using Technology effectively: There are so many options! So much to learn – QuickBooks, Moneyminder, PayPal, Cashapp, Zelle, Venmo, Salesforce, MailChimp, DocuSign, etc. It’s important to establish systems and processes that support the organization’s capacity and growth, subscriptions, website and building social channels. 
  5. Compliance: Annual reporting for the state, IRS, and professional development and certifications associated with grant funding, Dept. of AG, and Level II background screenings, 990 filings, audits and CPA review of finances. Phew!

In the face of adversity and shared challenges, I find myself often exhausted yet grateful for the opportunities and people who support me throughout my journey as a nonprofit visionary and founder. Walking in favor of God has allowed me to cross paths with Crave of Florida Inc. and individuals like Shelly Denmark, who helped me grow my network and organization in several areas. Chantel Aquart has been a phenomenal cheerleader and her roar reaches me from afar. Although I’m buried in a lengthy “to do list” it is being done in obedience and faith. Hebrews 11 reminds me I don’t have to know it all or have it all together, but faith is required. 

The professional development workshops and spiritual formation sessions with my fellow cohorts, alongside the support from Katrina Jackson in creating a budget for an awarded proposal confirms for me that with grit and grace, I’m able to withstand and stretch wide. The more I learn, the wiser I become. I feel deeply grateful to have met Arlene Blake and now have her as a mentor. There’s power in mentorship, which has been instrumental in the seeds of change for TCGC. I’ve grown exponentially in just a short time, but it’s been a fantastic experience. Growth inevitably teaches you things, and the more challenges we face, the more we can feel for others. For that alone, I will stand on the promise and keep going with whatever challenges life throws my way. 

Shala Edwards 
Crave V Leader


September 2022 – Lo-Ammi Richardson

Make the Commitment to Your Goals!

Have you ever set a goal and then failed to meet it? In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to get locked in a loop of creating goals, then immediately abandoning them and failing to meet them.

What motivates us to do it? One of the biggest causes is because we aren’t invested enough in our goal. Without commitment, a goal loses value over time and becomes much easier to abandon, especially when obstacles arise and cause setbacks and delays.

One thing I’ve discovered since joining the Crave community is that I wasn’t the only one who felt overwhelmed and discouraged, believing it was impossible to achieve my objective. Having a community to draw on, on the other hand, has been a big help in keeping me from giving up on my dream.

One thing I’ve committed to doing is making a solid pledge and constantly reminding myself of it; as a result, I’m more likely to adhere to my plan and achieve my objective.

Here are some ideas for making and keeping promises to yourself.

1) Your first step should be to ensure that each objective and goal you establish is really important to you. This is difficult because we frequently deceive ourselves into thinking we desire one thing when we truly want something else.

Take your time with this phase and make sure you truly understand what you want.

What exactly is your goal or objective? What will you get from it? Who will benefit from your passion project? What benefits will you get from it? What difference will it make in the lives of others? How will you feel after it’s finished and accomplish your goal?

Write everything down and keep it close by so you can refer to it if you start to lose interest. These are the things I learned during my monthly Crave meetings. Knowing what my objective is and putting it in the forefront of my mind allows me to chip away at it even on the days I don’t feel like doing anything or don’t feel motivated.

Also, consider whether the effort and sacrifices required to achieve your goal are worthwhile. You’re on the correct path if you can honestly say “yes.”

2) Consider what will happen if you do not keep your promises. If you haven’t already, I’d like you to consider it and raise the stakes.

My commitment to influencing inner-city youth is not only a passion for me, but also a goal that I must achieve. Why? Because people’s lives are on the line. Who will give them a chance to win in life if I don’t? Who will give them opportunities for them to attend college if I do not provide scholarships? If I don’t supply those resources, who will? Who will be the men of influence to the young men who don’t have positive male influence in their lives? If I quit, these kids will miss out on the opportunity to live a meaningful and impactfulful life. A life that they can become positive influencers in their own community. The stakes are too high for me to walk away from this goal.

This is why you must prioritize your goal over anything else. If you don’t, horrible things will happen. You should do it even if you have to make up somethings. Play up the fact that you’ll lose respect for yourself if you don’t do it, or that you’ll have to give up something you enjoy if you don’t. Raise the stakes!

3) Then, every day, make a new vow to yourself. When your goal is new and your motivation is high, it’s simple to be committed, but you must be able to STAY committed no matter what happens.

Every morning when you wake up, look over the goal or project. Sit down every day and remind yourself how important this goal is. Promise yourself that you will do everything you can that day and every day until you attain your objective.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you whether or not your goals will be achieved. If you want to achieve your objectives, you must find the motivation to keep going. Not accomplishing anything and putting things off are bad habits that we all must break.

Changing poor habits into more positive and useful ones is as simple as taking things one day at a time and trying your best to make a difference. The more committed and determined you are to achieving your objective, the more probable it is that you will succeed.

When it comes down to it, no one else can do what you want to do as well as you can. If you want to be successful, you must find the determination to keep going.

In most situations, idleness and procrastination are simply bad habits that must be broken. Changing those behaviors into more constructive and helpful ones is as simple as taking things one day at a time and putting in as much effort as possible to bring about life improvements. The more committed and concentrated you are on reaching your goal, the more likely you will be successful. This is what I Crave (pun intended). I want to impact young people. Why? Because if I don’t, people’s lives will be jeopardized. This is why I value this community. Even on days when I don’t want to keep going, there are individuals that believe in what I’m trying to accomplish, and on days that I feel like quitting I know that there is a whole community rooting for me and I can’t let my community down.

Lo-Ammi Richardson‘s experiences have led him to become the motivational speaker. He travels nationally and internationally touching the lives of many young people. He is a part of the Crave Family, participating as part of the Crave V cohort in 2022.


August 2022 – Elshan Asadi

My Crave Experience

It was an abrupt change.
I was lost –
Out of the la-la-land, into the sea –
drowning in an ocean of intangible species.
I found myself knocking on doors.
Crave was one.
A random email led to a bigger connection.

I can’t describe how it feels like to play two opposite rolls in life.
I was not ready for such a harsh game.
But I tried.
Crave expanded my vision into the world of The West.

Now I listen more
I think deeper in daily life.
I consciously track my own biases.
I am constantly on the move;
As I learn more, I find no strangers.
I found my inner peace:

friends,
family,
home.
Elshan Asadi is an architectural accessibility consultant with JensenHughes. She is part of the Crave Alumni cohort, participating as a Crave II Leader 2018-2019.

March 2022 – Chantel Aquart

Come. Rest.

“I hope that Crave can be the place this year that says “Come” to all our leaders who are laboring and are heavy laden. “Come. Rest.”  ~ Spoken by Chantel Aquart, Chair-elect, at the Crave V Welcome Dinner in February, 2022

Chantel speaking at the 2022 Welcome Dinner.

The full verse of Matthew 11:28-30 reads like this:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

This is the reason I joined Crave. I was tired. I was worn-out and burned-out from trying to do life alone. I knew that God had given me great plans, but I didn’t know how to pursue them. I prayed long and hard; I went to small groups; I called help lines trying to unload and get help with my heavy burdens.

Racism. Poverty. Immigration. Domestic Violence. Incarceration. These are a few of my heavy burdens I deal with as a single parent of three. And I am not alone. Single motherhood has grown so common in America that today 80 percent of single-parent families are headed by single mothers; nearly one-third live in poverty. With God’s help and through programs like Crave, I work every day to overcome these statistics.

I enjoy being a public speaker. As a British-native and US citizen, I have moved around the world in my 40+ years. I ‘ve learned to manage change well. I’ve taught hundreds of people how to order life in order to find joy and fulfillment. This led me to open my own consulting firm Amazing Life Consulting Firm LLC, which offers life coaching in personal development for well-being so you can “Make Life Work.”

I also sit on the board of another community organization, Poverty Solutions Group, and have made over 50 Central Florida community connections (we call these Crave connections). It was through some of these connections that PSG was awarded close to $40,000 in grants last year.

I have learned environments can pivot you either to or away from your fullest potential. When I look back at the environments Crave placed me in as an aspiring entrepreneur, I see they were planting me in fertile soil. While I was a Class II Leader, I learned to develop, direct, accelerate, master, manage, create, fulfill, process, network, mobilize, fund, scale, and innovate my business. I continue to build on these skills an am now able to share what I learned new Crave V leaders, as I begin my term as Chair of the Board of Directors.

Crave’s Board of Directors, Program Council, Alumni, Coaches, and Community Partners are ready to join our new Crave V Leaders on their journey to stratospheric success. But we need you!

As our Crave Family continues to learn, to implement and to teach, we need you to help us make a larger impact. Do you have gifts, skills and talents you know could help our Crave V Leaders move forward? We would like to hear from you. Please let’s meet for coffee (or tea!) to discuss how we can make some Crave connections. Know someone we need to meet? Please share us with others! Let’s work together to help the new Crave Leaders do the great work they want to do in our community. Together we can make their burden light.

Chantel Aquart

Crave II Leader

Crave Board of Directors Chair, 2022

Crave Community Statement

We believe in the goodness of the human spirit 

and that together we are wiser, kinder, and capable of greater Love. 

We gather to discover, support, and challenge one another

as we commit our lives to the service of others. 

We honor each person’s journey 

because conversation is more valuable than conviction.

Today, we hope that the fire within us burns brighter for having been together.


Crave V Leaders (L-R)

Anthony Lewis, Joni Pugh, Antoniah Lewis-Reese, Edrewnae Lewis, 

Caleb Hylton, Shala Edwards, Cendie Stanford, Seven Charlestin, 

and Mark Bishop. (Not Pictured: Keisha Bishop, Lo-Ammi Richardson and Bryan Wilson.)

November 2021 – Michele Van Son Neill

Confessions of a Founder: This is so about you

My mom would have turned 78 later this month. She was a kind soul and she died too young. I miss so much about her, but especially her simple direct wisdom. “Life is daily” was a good one. Another favorite: “Men. Women. What was God thinking?” As a teen I’d whine to her about how my brothers were treating me and she’d turn to me and say, “It’s hell living with people.” I repeated that back to her 20 years later when I lived with two 3-year-olds and a 2-year-old. We laughed until tears ran down our cheeks.

Michele’s mother Rev. Robbi Walker on her birthday, November 26

My favorite line of hers she once used as a sermon title she preached on God’s grace, “This Is So Not About You.” Isn’t that the truth?  Don’t we need to be reminded of that? We can get trapped so easily into thinking it’s all my fault, my responsibility, my job alone. Nine out of ten times, no matter the situation, it really isn’t about you. It’s really about something or someone else. Rarely though, we find ourselves in circumstances where it is about you.  For example, there is only one Founder – and it is me.

Five years after the founding of Crave (can you believe it?!?), we are taking intentional time to reflect, respond, and recalibrate. Crave has grown from a small group of spiritually curious social entrepreneurs to a wildly diverse, deeply connected, powerfully impactful collection of people only the Holy Spirit could gather for times such as these. I attended a prestigious university, I attend a powerful church, I live in a heavily resourced influential neighborhood, but never have I EVER been part of such a rich, dynamic, blessed, passionate, and brilliant group of people as Crave.

Preparing to Start cohort five was the time for the leveled-up 2.0 God-size dream for Crave. What will we become? What’s next for us? How will we get there? As I prayed over and over these questions while walking our dog and in the carpool line, I kept coming up blank.  Worse than blank, I felt overwhelmed, tired, and tangled up in too many and too few good ways forward. As Founder, considering what the next five years should/could/would be, I was in over my head. I needed to learn my mother’s lesson again, “this is so not about you.”

In the middle of a recent “overwhelmed/tired/tangled” week, Crave IV graduate Simon Adams and I met for coffee. He excitedly shared with me a THREE PAGE DOCUMENT of his vision for the future of Crave. As I listened to his explanation of his experience with his project, with Crave, and how Crave will become a launching community for spiritually grounded, experienced change-makers in central Florida, I remembered my mother’s lesson. The 2.0 God-sized dream of Crave will emerge from our Alumni Leaders! They have lived the pain they now work to help heal. They have the trauma of injustice and scars of racism but now stand strong and open-hearted to restore our city and the people in it. Crave attracts people who have the lived experience and then invite the rest of us to join in their God-sized dream of a loving, flourishing central Florida. Their story is our story is my story is your story:  

Inevitable life trauma/scars meets…

loving community that is spirit/grace centered + 

support/education/opportunities

expanded network of helpers to show us the way = 

the good life (aka: kingdom of God/heaven)

You’ve lived this story. I’ve lived this story. This is Crave’s story. This is God’s story. 

This is a time when God’s grace and abundance IS all about YOU. Many of Crave’s leaders started life way behind my starting line. Many of their trauma and scars were setbacks and barriers I will never experience and understand. What I do experience and understand is abundance and I want to help them bring about a loving, flourishing community in Central Florida and beyond. That’s why I and many others financially support Crave Leaders’ spiritual grounding/education/project development. This time it is so about me. And, this is so about you

Keep an eye out for lots of opportunities to contribute to Central Florida’s God-sized dreams through Crave during the giving season. Finally, over the holidays please share the good news with your friends and family about the amazing people of Crave who bring hope to the world! 

Happy Thanksgiving 
(and Happy Birthday, Mom!)
Michele Van Son Neill
Crave Founder
Join Central Florida’s revolutionary change-makers by volunteering your gifts of time, skills, relationships, and seed funding. 

 


May/June 2021 – Debra Hendrickson

Dreams for Our Future  

One of my favorite quotes is from Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.

Four years ago I was approached by Michele Van Son Neill to assist her in the creation of her dream…a new spiritual leadership program she called “CRAVE”.  She wanted to have a dialogue about spirituality with a younger generation. This generation of dreamers was eager to learn from us “seasoned leaders” as much as we were willing to discover new ideas from them.

As I began this journey with Michele the unexpected came along. I thought that I had reached that age when my dreams had been fulfilled and I was satisfied with the lessons of life that I had learned. But with my exposure to the CRAVE family, I began to realize that there was so much more to discover about myself and my relationships with others.

Debra with Michele Van Son Neill at Victory Cup

My first “ah-ha” moment came in my early connection with a CRAVE leader. My role was to mentor a young CRAVE leader, meet regularly over coffee, ask questions about her project and listen, offer guidance; introduce her to other leaders who could assist in her journey; be her spiritual counselor; mentor her towards success. Ultimately what happened was that I became the “mentee”. Together we were on a self-discovery path. And it continued with each young CRAVE leader that I was able to mentor as I continued my CRAVE involvement.

Debra with Crave II Leader Chantel Aquart

My second awakening came from my experience with fellow board members. Their life experience was so very different than my own.  We heavily debated the track for moving our young organization forward, each with our views based on these life experiences. But with each challenge to my way of thinking came a new understanding and the promise of future accomplishments of our young non-profit organization.  

Debra with Michele Van Son Neill and Adam Hartnett, Crave I Leader and former Board member

For the past 4 years I have served as founding chair and board member of CRAVE. At our recent CRAVE graduation, as I listened to our graduates share their stories about their transformation by participating in CRAVE I, too, felt that my spiritual growth had exceeded my expectations. Although I may be stepping down from my leadership role with CRAVE, I will be in the background, cheering you on as you fulfill your dreams.

Debra with Shelly Denmark, Director, and Brian Vann, Chair of Board of Directors

Debra Hendrickson, Founding Chair of CRAVE Board of Directors


April 2021 – Hanah Murphy

Coming Full Circle

At the very beginning of my time in Crave, we were asked to choose a word which represented the intentions we set for our upcoming year of exploration and growth. I chose the word “circle”.  As in, full circle; referring to the cyclical nature of life and the regenerative connections made through time. It was a concept I was just beginning to experience as I slowly became attune to the synchronicities and serendipities present in my own life and work. 

Discovering what exactly that work is was one of my main motivations in deciding to embark on the Crave journey. What was my purpose? How could I channel my skills and resources into my passion? I joined Crave feeling like I was following a path lit only by the sparks of the people and ideas I had met along the way. I knew there were common threads to what I was learning, experiencing, and doing, but I had no clear sense as to where this path led.

From studying environmental science to working in agriculture and hospitality service, back to studying urban planning and working on youth-centered educational design, food was the only thing holding it all together for me. Food represented the opportunity to bring human societies back into harmony with our natural environment. It represented a life-giving tool to reconnect our communities back to their health, their cultures and each other. Food not only represented our history, but also a tangible way to engage in shaping the kind of future we want to see for life on Earth. 

In the end, I did not leave Crave with a crystal clear idea of what to do or who I was in this work. I did not graduate with a specific project or role to pursue. But, through the vulnerable community Crave cultivated, through the time we dedicated to ourselves and each other week after week, I understood the importance of simply showing up for what I believed in. The Crave leaders I built relationships with encouraged me to keep following these sparks and to trust the quiet pull of curiosity. The breadth of experience shared by our community partners taught me there is a space for everyone, and the individual idea of purpose may only come through collective pursuit. 

Now, almost three years after my Crave experience and three years of committing to show up for the future I believe is possible through food, I am working at the intersection of all these experiences as a farm coordinator and program designer for Grow Orlando, led by fellow Crave alum Frank Bailey. Grow Orlando is committed to employing young people in agricultural roles that not only provide economic opportunity, but also cultivate a sense of connection to self and environment. We are working to build a network of community-led micro- farms growing on otherwise unused, arable land; teach the next generation of farmers and food entrepreneurs; and cultivate healthy, resilient, local food economies through our network. 

This work may not have an explicitly clear path, but drawing on the sparks of our collective community I know we can light the way for future generations.

Talk about coming full circle

Hanah Murphy

Crave I