February 2023 – Olivia Blase

Who do I want to be? 

Every new season of life gives us the opportunity to decide the answer to a very simple yet important question: who do I want to be?

What do I value most? What impact do I want to leave on the world? How do I want to interact with other people? How do I want to feel? What legacy do I want to leave? Whether you are a new parent, have started a new job, moved, are going through loss and heartbreak, etc., new life situations are opportunities for us to check in with ourselves and be intentional about the people we want to be. 

Earth Day, 2020

In college I had to decide what kind of student I wanted to be. In my young adult life, I mostly questioned what kind of friend I was. Starting my first career and beyond (this journey definitely isn’t over), I was evaluating the type of employee I wanted to be. When I was a Leader in Crave III, I wrestled with my identity as a white woman, as well as my role in our world as a person who wants to use her gifts for good and justice. 

Crave III Leaders (l-r) Marquis McKenzie, Blu Bailey, Jarvis Wheeler, Olivia Blase, and Shequila Roberts

 

My newest adventure, living in Spain and teaching English, has forced me to address my identity as an American. This has been an especially interesting experience while living in Europe where everyone has an opinion about the USA. Some people thank me for how the States intervened in World War II. Others complain to me about how we get involved in everything globally. Some gush to me how much they love the USA, and others plainly tell me that they hate our country. 

San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid

At first, all of this mixed feedback caused me to close up and try to hide my “Americanness”. I was confused about what it meant to be me in a place where everyone has an opinion about me. So instead of dealing with the question of “who do I want to be?” I clammed up and let others decide [for me] who I was to them. Let me tell you something – that didn’t work so well. I have spent so much time and energy wrestling with my identity on others’ opinions, yet I was wasting the opportunity to decide who I am going to be and what I am going to represent. 

And of course, my identity both encompasses and extends beyond being American – or being a friend, a woman, caucasian, a student, an employee. Much of who I decide to be is exemplified by being a part of the Crave family, a community that loves, embraces, empowers, and emboldens people who are curious, passionate, generous, humble, and not afraid to bust boundaries for the good of others. 

That is the kind of person I want to be. What about you?

Olivia Blase, Crave III Alum

YOU ARE A WONDER WOMAN! In 5th grade art class, the assignment was to draw a superhero comic. None chose a woman. I drew this on the whiteboard, and soon after, several of them wanted help drawing her, too. They see what we represent and don’t represent.

July 2020 – Brian Vann

Endings and Beginnings

With the third year of Crave coming to an end, we celebrate the two Crave Leader graduating cohortsone from Orlando and one from Sanford. The Crave program runs from August to June so this year’s classes completed the Crave curriculum during a most unprecedented time in our country’s history. As all non-profits do, these leaders had to overcome the challenges COVID-19 employed. They did so with integrity, character, perseverance, and determination. As they grew, so did all the individuals who make up the Crave Universe. With the third year in the books, we are excited to begin year four!  

The fourth year brings excitement, but also sadness. The third year marked the end of the tenure for some of our board members. We are saddened to see these friends and colleagues roll off the board. Even though they are no longer on the board, their legacy will be felt for a long time to come. Some of these individuals helped start Crave while others shaped it into what Crave is today. We pray for their present and continued support while staying within the Crave Universe.   

Thank you to outgoing Orlando council members Tom Harris, Adam Hartnett, Jon Tschanz, Rick Jones, Kelsey Kerce, Sarah Skidmore, Tonya Tolson, and Karen Weatherford. Thank you to outgoing Sanford council members Pasha Baker, Nancy Groves, Jolene Lovemore, Erin O’Donnell, and Tom Royal.

The fourth year marks a critical time in the growth of the Crave organization. The organization is no longer a start-up as it begins its growth stage. The growth we are experiencing afforded us the opportunity to expand our leadership. We now operate with an Advisory Council of Orlando and a Board of Directors. We are thankful to welcome many new members of both the Advisory Council and the Board of Directors. These individuals are some of the most influential in our community. We are working on some amazing projects such as creating a certificate program for the Crave curriculum. We are blessed to welcome a new group of social change makers to our fourth year Crave Leader cohort. These individuals are dynamic, intelligence, and inspirational. 

Welcome new board members Faith Buhler, Gina Dole, Woody Rodriguez, and Jarvis Wheeler; and council members Chantel Aquart, Blu Bailey, Katie Brown, Terri Hartman, Stephanie Preston-Hughes, and Katrina Jackson,

I am excited to kickoff a new Crave year!

Brian Vann, Chair of the Crave Board of Directors