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.)