In the fall of 2011 my life completely changed. I went from riding my bike up mountains, surfing in Malibu, and running a team at GOOD, to barely being able to get out of bed. For months, doctors didn't know what was wrong with me, but I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).
While not life threatening, it can be completely debilitating. There is no cure and not everyone recovers. The first CFS specialist I saw told me that I would likely never get better. Thankfully that was not the case, and after nearly 18 months of illness I am almost back to my life, thanks to a new experimental protocol by Dr. Alfred Slonim involving nutraceuticals and exercise.
As I started to come out of illness and gain more energy, I needed a way to restart my brain and get accustomed to working again, which was an exercise in rebuilding stamina and the ability to concentrate. I volunteered my time performing web and social strategy at a local nonprofit called Helping To Heal, which helps improve nutrition and environments for seriously ill children, by providing hospitals and cancer-care facilities with free wellness guides to share with families. It was so satisfying to help grow a worthy business. This is what I needed to do.
I decided to take my skills and apply them to help nonprofits and small businesses grow using today’s online universe. Nonprofits have tremendous impact, but are always strapped for time and resources. Small business are a huge part of the economy, but many business owners simply don’t have time to figure out the best way to increase awareness, or how to ensure these efforts are worth their time.
Business and nonprofits that don’t embrace new technology will be left behind. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s “The Social Economy Social Sector” study:
Fifty-eight percent of charities reported an increase in donations from online fundraising compared with 43 percent from direct mail solicitations. A donor who joined an organization online gave an average of $62 in 2010, compared with the $32 given on average by someone who joined by mail.
The same expectation can be applied to customers of small business. Online strategies leveraging content, social media and community can increase loyalty. In its 2011 “The State of Small Business Report,” The University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business found that online presence was critical: 63 percent of business owners feel it has helped make their customers more loyal.
With all this in mind, I decided to create One Eyed Acres. One Eyed Acres drives growth and impact for businesses and nonprofits by engaging new customers, building communities, and increasing loyalty through digital media strategy, content creation, and continued engagement.
By helping these business and nonprofits grow, I hope I can give back to the community by generating impact and improving local economies. This was the lesson I learned from my illness and my continuing recovery. I still volunteer my time with Helping to Heal, even though I've gone back to work.
Each of us has skills that are needed or simply things we love to do that we don’t get to do at work. I found that volunteering gave me a tremendous boost and was critical in my recovery. I hope people will hear my story and find time within their day to give back. Go and find a local group. There is one in your community that needs you, and you may find you need them too.
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