Royce Gomez

Variety During A Winter Storm

I said "Yes" to variety during a winter storm.

Colorado is infamous for its winter storms of Spring. This weekend blew in one of these storms. This weekend also happened to be the same weekend my friend needed an animal sitter while going to a funeral. 

So I said "yes". I found myself watching 3 horses, 2 goats, 4 cats, 2 dogs, and nearly 50 chickens. Now I'm no farm girl.....I've never handled goats, gathered eggs, or feed chickens. The sustained 60 mph winds and 30 degree weather blowing snow in may this job even more complicated. 

But, I had plenty of writing assignments to keep me busy while I spent the weekend on the farm. One writing assignment was unusual for me.

A lady and I were speaking during a networking event last week. During our conversation I learned she had a nonprofit with a mission that aligned with my passion. Her organization needs funds, and I have books that can provide those funds. She and I spoke about me selling my books to donate proceeds to her organization.

So I said "yes". I found myself writing this unusual assignment during this blustery, winter-y weekend.

An unusual weekend all around--donning overalls to feed chickens, then coming in to the warmth of the house to write a commercial for the sake of this organization.

Variety is the spice of life; if this is true, my weekend has been spicy. I am sure of one thing, because I say "yes" my life is full of variety. I am fortunate to live my passion every day. 

The Bush

On one hand the bush looks dead--no leaves, no pop of color. Look more closely and you'll see signs of life.

One one hand the bush looks weak with it's slim branches dancing in the breeze. Look more closely and you'll see the strength of it's trunk holding it firmly in place.

On one hand the bush looks prickly as you stare at it's numerous shoots. Look more closely and you'll find the soft blooms of spring will sprout.

Life--often like the bush--what we focus on determines what we see.

He Waits

Sometimes we see the Triune God and walk away. Other times due to the difficult climb on the path we've chosen, we walk towards Him.

Either way He waits.

When trials come we often accuse God of moving away from us. However, it is we who move. He stands firm. 

His strength is like a strong tower, a rock that withstands the storms of life.

When we choose to turn away it is an uphill climb. When we are ready to return to Him, He is there waiting. 

He waits.

Love Doesn't Fade

There was a man, a man I loved deeply. After a brief romance he admitted he couldn’t commit; commitment had been an ongoing fear of his throughout all of his relationships. I knew this and expected one day ours would end. Sure enough the time came. Painful though it was I knew it was for the best.

 

 

I went my way, he went his. Time and distance separated us giving me space to heal. More than a year has past. In addition, I spent many weeks away separated by hundreds and even thousands of miles. They say time heals all wounds….

 

One day I was caught off guard as I saw him across the room. We were in a room full of many of our peers and caught each other’s eye. That’s when I knew. I knew time and distance hadn’t diminished how I felt. My head had done a double take as I spotted him across the room. And unless I was imagining things so did his. We both quickly averted our eyes and avoided any contact. However, it was in that moment that I knew I loved him as deeply as the day we ended our relationship. It was also in that moment that I knew that he had feelings for me, too.

 

Suddenly this encounter had my thoughts reeling in disarray once again. Knowing that he was averse to commitments, yet still had some attraction to me and realizing how strong my feelings were made it impossible to keep my mind off of us.

 

I succumbed to an offer to meet. After all it was just a brief, friendly meeting over coffee. No harm can possibly come from a brief meeting in public, right? Wrong! The thoughts swirled in my head unable to find order and clarity. Logically I knew there was no future for us. Logically I knew a year later my feelings shouldn’t be this strong. Logically I could tell myself  a thousand reasons why I should walk away and think no more about us. However, my thoughts were lead by my heart not logical reasoning.

 

Three days later I was still going over and over the “goodbye” message in my mind, the message I desperately wanted to tell him in person. Logical reasoning hadn’t come brought me to my senses and my feet hadn’t made me run far enough away. The heart I thought had mended from time and distance was feeling ripped apart by the strong emotions I felt. And, despite the fact that I usually have a great amount of self-discipline nothing I could say to myself kept my thoughts from turning to him--to us.

 

The heart doesn’t allow me to understand everything. The heart continues to lead me in the area of love. And although I think “If only………”, I know I love him enough to wish him everything he hopes to find without me. Love makes us want the best for those we hold dear, and that I understand.

 

International Bestseller: Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    CONTACT: Royce Gomez

    Royce Talks

    719.684.4676

 

 

 

Orlando Author Makes International Bestseller List

 

After less than a week at the top of the charts, Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life becomes an International Bestseller in three countries

 

 

ORLANDO (20-January-2016) – Royce Gomez, local author, has released her third book in only 11 months. Her first, a short novel, was published Feb 2015; the second was released as an eBook in Oct 2015. This third book is an anthology of 33 authors who provide tips to Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, and Love Your Life. The Kindle edition was released on January 8, 2015; the book will be released in early February.

 

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has welcomed the authors, inviting them to do a book signing, and selling the book in the gift shop during the January cruise on Brilliance of the Seas. The print edition will be available in limited quantities and sold on the cruise before the official release next month.

 

The Orlando authors included in this book are: Royce Gomez, Bobbi Govanus, Toni Crabtree, Kathleen McCarthy Peters, Shanta Barton-Stubbs, and Barbara Moss Abramson. This group of empowered women volunteer their time to helping others become empowered and realize their destiny.

 

The stories told in this anthology share the pain of women who have suffered domestic violence, sexual abuse, near-fatal accidents, loss of a child, and other struggles. These authors have personally claimed victory and a new life for themselves. They dedicate these short stories to  women who are on the journey to move from “surviving to thriving”, says Royce Gomez.

 

Each year hundreds of new books are published on the topics of spirituality and women’s empowerment. Seldom, however, do 33 women come together to share such a diverse range of personal stories to help others. Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life does this.

 

Royce Gomez shares her personal story to inspire women in their life and their faith. Her three tips to go from “surviving to thriving” are:

 

1. Express gratitude for what God has given me

2. Write down specific goals and look at them daily, becoming intentional in accomplishing them

3. Remember I was now in charge of my own destiny--I made the choice daily to get up and move forward or allow myself to be kept down by not moving forward

 

 

 

 


Royce Gomez is the author of: 7 Beautiful Weeks: The Love Affair That Wasn’t Meant to Last, The Spontaneous Journey, and co-author of Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life. She is an expert on SelfGrowth.com, a website with over 1 million daily visitors, is published on the Huffington Post, and is a columnist and writer for Charity Magazine, reaching the philanthropic community in Central Florida. When Royce isn’t writing or speaking, she is actively involved in the startup and social enterprise sectors, in addition to pursuing her love of travel.

 

 

Press Release for Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    CONTACT: Royce Gomez

    Royce Talks

    719.684.4676

 

 

 

Orlando Author Hits #1 in Kindle

 

 

 

After traveling and journaling for 31 weeks during 2015, author is part of an anthology that hits  #1 in Hot New Releases in Spirituality on Kindle

 

 

 

ORLANDO (14-January-2016) – Royce Gomez, local author, has released her third book in only 11 months! Her first, a short novel, was published Feb 2015; the second, a journal of 10 weeks of travel and covering an international story, released as an eBook in Oct 2015. This third book is an anthology of 33 authors who provide tips to Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, and Love Your Life. This book will touch many lives, and we are proud to say it has become an international best seller!

 

 

 

The Orlando authors included in this book are: Royce Gomez, Bobbi Govanus, Toni Crabtree, Kathleen McCarthy Peters, Shanta Barton-Stubbs, and Barbara Moss Abramson. This group of empowered women volunteer their time to helping others become empowered and realize their destiny.

 

 

Women traditionally struggle more with major life changes due to parenting, health, career, and financial “hiccups”. These authors know and understand the struggle personally and dedicate their life to helping other women go from “surviving to thriving”, says Royce Gomez.

 

 

Each year hundreds of new books are published on the topics of spirituality and women’s empowerment. Seldom, however, do 33 women come together to share such a diverse range of personal stories to help others. Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life does this.

 

 

Royce Gomez has traveled and spent extended time in Nashville, Panama City Beach, and Orlando. She welcomes any opportunity to speak to women to share her part of this journey, taking women from “surviving to thriving”. Royce has spoken to audiences of women ranging from tens to hundreds.

 

 

If you are looking for an author or speaker to reach your audience, Royce Gomez is available for speaking engagements, book signings, and interviews.

 

 

 

 

Royce Gomez is the author of: 7 Beautiful Weeks: The Love Affair That Wasn’t Meant to Be, The Spontaneous Journey, and co-author of Discover Your Destiny, Live Your Dreams, Love Your Life. She is an expert on SelfGrowth.com, a website with over 1 million daily visitors, is published on Huffington Post, and is a columnist and writer for Charity Magazine, reaching the philanthropic community in Central Florida. When Royce is writing and speaking, she is actively involved in the startup and social enterprise sectors, in addition to traveling.

 

 

 

A Sharp Dressed Man

A Sharp Dressed Man

Traveling with a business man brought some unexpected revelations. However, one particularly stands out. We arrive the night before the "big meeting". You know the one you have spent weeks preparing for, the one with one of your biggest clients (a $50M plus deal), and the morning of the meeting something goes wrong. He opens his garment bag only to find he had packed his entire suit--except the pants!

A discussion began from the horrified look on his face. We discussed whether he lie and say something got spilled on his suit pants over breakfast or does he admit our human state and confess he forgot to pack them? Another option was to rush from the breakfast table and race to the nearest local clothing store that would be open before the meeting.

This discussion made me realize how much our identity and worth are wrapped up in how we dress. With a positive attitude and confident body language, we can pull off not being appropriately dressed for the occasion. Many multi-million dollar business deals have been made by affluent men (and women) in jeans. When you are confident and comfortable in your own skin it shows whether you are in a $100 suit, a $1000 suit.....or a pair of jeans.

It can be tough to be a "fish out of water" and be inappropriately dressed for the occasion though. Our self esteem must be solidly in tact. We must know our worth comes from who we are (a valuable, worthy person), what we know (the astute business acumen will convince them to work with us), and the value we can offer (part of that value, perhaps, can be showing them you are human).

Although we don't usually choose to be inappropriately dressed, on the rare occasion we are, it's important to remember our self worth and our intellect are not wrapped up in what we are wearing.

Always be clothed with a positive attitude, a perspective full of hope, confidence, and the assurance that you are a worthy person. None of us can be less worthy than another unless we allow ourselves to be.

Walk into the room as a sharp dressed man (or woman) whether you are in a suit or jeans. Be clothed with confidence and a smile.

Our attitude determines our success more often than anything else.

 

Originally published on SelfGrowth.com. Reprinted here.

Walking My Dog Led Me Around the World

You ask me how walking my dog led me around the world? I'll tell you and it's no tall tale. I was walking my dog in my neighborhood as I do every other day. I smile as I pass my neighbors while my dog greets the other dogs. My neighborhood is one of those special places where people do stop to have a brief chat. You pass the same people often so eventually those brief chats add up to learning more about each other. This was one such moment.

My neighbor and I stopped to talk and the conversation turned a bit longer than it typically did. We began to ask each other about our professions, both curious since we would pass each other mid-day.

I shared what I did with her and it happened she had just reconnected with an old friend from high school who was looking for a copywriter. She made the introduction and he instantly hired me due to her referral.

The job went on for several months. During the assignment, I covered a story on an event coming to town. This event was of particular interest to me because it combined two of my favorite passions: entrepreneurship and college students. I instantly submitted a request to volunteer for the event.

During the event, I networked with others, and one conversation led us to a discussion on Italy. This perked me up because I had been planning a trip to Italy sometime during the year. He shared a few memories of his trip to Italy and gave me his card.

The story doesn't end there.

I occasionally followed up just to reconnect. But, one day my follow up was intentionally brought back to our conversation on Italy. I had booked my trip and was ready for tips and tricks to travel to Europe for my first time--alone.

He kindly connected me to a family member who lives in Italy. Not only did she graciously give me tips and help me plan transportation; but, she also invited me to stay with them during a portion of my trip.

By this time I bet you forgot this trail all began from walking my dog; but, I didn't! Let me share some relevant reminders to use in business (and relationships for that matter).

First, you never know how influential the people you meet will be in your life and who they know that could be beneficial to you.

Second, volunteering can propel your career. Find a cause you are passionate about and get involved.

Third, always follow up with people you meet. It may not lead anywhere today; but, relationships aren't meant for just today.

Fourth, always be kind. People remember you when you take time to get to know them.

Fifth, walk your dog :) Your dog will love you and you will be more approachable.

And that's the story of how walking my dog has led me around the world. I'll write you from Italy. Ciao!

The Business of Nonprofits

This blog post has been the hardest I've ever had to write. The answer is so simple and trite; but, deserves a fuller explanation. The one thing that non-profits need most of all in regards to funding is a systemic change in the organization. The trend in non-profits today seems to be that more Executive Directors are coming from the for-profit sector. Therefore, they have the business acumen to lead and grow the organization. However, they still have a Board to contend with as well as a staff that has "traditional non-profit thinking". Now I know you are thinking: "This may be true in some non-profit organization; but, not in mine." Bear with me a bit longer as I dig deeper into this thought. I have spoken to people who consult with non-profit EDs on an almost daily basis; I have sat at round table discussions with consultants who travel the United States speaking, consulting, and training non-profit organizations. This is the norm; systemic change is necessary!

Nancy Lublin stated "Non-profits have huge inefficiencies and overlaps....This is wasteful and bad business." In Nancy's blog "The Foundations Four Biggest Faux Pas" she states: Stop mistaking marketing for overhead -- and stop hating on overhead. We're all running businesses, and we've all got more expenses than we want. But your constant refrain about us spending too much on communications staff, graphic design, and public relations is misguided. "Scaling up" means that people need to know about us. It also means that we'll have to spend money on expenses that you label with the most unfairly pejorative word in our business: overhead.

Non-profits are being seen by philanthropists more as a business; those in the non-profit sector need to think more like businessmen and women. Results are trumping the cause and the personal relationship as high net worth donors look at giving. They are looking at sustainable income, outcomes, ROIs, and a multi-year funding cycle. This is the mindset of an investor not a donor! Funders (investors) and donors think differently in five key areas: a need for funding, an approach to the problem, funding level, measuring success, and delivering results. (More information can be found in "ROI for Nonprofits and Asking Rights" by Tom Ralser.)

Systemic change and a forward-thinking leadership team may just be the keys to your success. Wishing you success!

Turning Passion Into Profit

To help you define what you are passionate about, I suggest you read about issues plaguing our society and our world. Reflect on causes that strike a nerve with you and network with others that have an interest in similar causes. It is my belief that if you speak with those who are interested in similar causes you may gain a different perspective and perhaps be able to see solutions that you wouldn't otherwise see. The passion of some of the Changemakers from these organizations can be found in these books: Tattoos on the Heart, Black Faces in White Places, Who Owns the Ice House. I'm sure there are many other stories; but, these are truly inspirational and will get you started.

So once you find your passion and launch, how can you sustain and grow? Understandably, impact is a priority for the social entrepreneur. The key is to stay true to your passion, and to operate with persistence and patience. But, it's also important to find support. There is so much support available. First, find someone you can communicate directly with. That goes back to the advice of finding a mentor. Next, leverage your existing resources; this includes community, current staff and volunteers, and your funds.

As I spoke to the leaders from various social enterprises, they all shared the trials of growing pains. Sometimes the founders had the vision that inspired others to join them. These founders led the movement to address the social injustice close to their heart; however, at a certain point they found that their skills were causing the enterprise to become stagnant. To grow, they would have to pass the baton to someone else or they would be ineffective at moving forward to touch more lives. That is not failure; that is recognizing that each of us is capable of a certain level of vision and leadership.

Sometimes our purpose in life may be only to plant the seed and launch a team of advocates, and then the team together becomes a catalyst for something bigger. Sometimes growing pains meant learning that they had programs that weren't marketable. One organization that worked with people with a criminal background tried to market services; however, found that clients wouldn't let the former criminals in their homes to perform services. Other organizations just found that there wasn't enough of a market for their products, so that offering wasn't profitable. If you are a social enterprise that offers multiple products and/or services it's good business practice to keep your accounting practices separate for each one so you know if you have a product/service that is draining your revenue dollars or carrying your enterprise. To entrepreneurs this may seem elementary; but, to someone focused on mission they want everything to work. This feedback was given to me several times in my interviews. I was guilty of this as well in my social enterprises. When you are focused on mission and every idea was your "baby" it's hard to see when it's not working. A good resource for the entire journey from idea to incubation and growth is your local non-profit resource center.

In recent years the lines have blurred between non-profit and for-profit entities; non-profits have become more "business like" and profit seeking while for-profits have begun to embrace social and environmental causes clearing supporting those causes on their marketing collateral. There are two areas where social enterprises have admittedly fallen short: business plan development and sales and marketing. For those entrepreneurs ready to dive into the world of social enterprises, be aware and plan ahead, to seek business acumen in these two areas. Social enterprise is definitely on the rise and there are so many resources, both free and tuition or fee based. For large scale resources to obtain knowledge I would highly recommend Social Enterprise Alliance and Ashoka U. There is a rise in discussion regarding "B Corps" and "L3Cs". These are terms that are being entered into legislation to have a specific designation for social enterprises.

I, and many experts in the industry, believe that the way non-profits sustain is changing. Non-profits cannot be as dependent upon donors and grants to fund them. That funding has decreased in recent years. Therefore, non-profits must look at the idea of social enterprise for sustainability and covering operational costs through unrestricted funds. It amazes me that in traditional business we know that profit helps keep the lights on; but, in non-profits most grants won't cover keeping the lights on. Is this thought provoking to you?

Social Enterprise: From Its Roots to Mainstream Conversation

Can you believe the social enterprise business model has been in existence since before 1900? Yes, it's true! Goodwill Industries was founded in 1895 (although that wasn't its official name until 1915) in Boston by Reverend Edgar Helms. Reverend Helms, theological student, was sent to minister in a struggling inner city mission. When he saw the deplorable conditions these immigrants lived in, Reverend Helms knew he must find a way to employ them. He collected unwanted goods from the homes of the wealthy and allowed immigrants to repair and refurbish them. After they were made suitable for sale, the goods were sold in thrift stores. The profits from the sales paid the impoverished immigrants wages. By 1920 there were 15 Goodwill stores around the country. Reverend Helms had a larger vision for this enterprise though; his goal was to make Goodwill an international organization. Amazingly, this model is successfully used today by Goodwill Industries, and copied by thousands of other organizations. Goodwill Industries is quite obviously a successful social enterprise model that has withstood the test of time. Reverend Helms was a visionary entrepreneur before his time. The Wagner-O'Day Act was passed in 1938 by President Roosevelt. This legislative action paved the way for over 600 social enterprises to employ over 48,000 people with disabilities today. If Social Enterprise has been a successful business model for over 100 years, why are we just now giving it the attention it deserves?

Social Enterprise is practiced around the world. The largest social enterprise in terms of annual sales and size of staff was founded in Spain in 1956. The inspiration for it was due to the large amount of unemployment after the Spanish Civil War. Today theMondragon Corporacion Cooperative (MCC) consists of 120 companies, 42,000 worker-owners; and operates 43 schools and one college. The internet has given rise to the awareness and effectiveness of the social enterprise movement. Before the rise of the internet several organizations made an impact on their causes, such as Ten Thousand Villages and Denver Children's Museum. Again, these business models have proven successful and have been modeled by others. Bajalia International Group has an online model similar to Ten Thousand Villages supporting artisans in disadvantaged areas and selling their goods around the world. The internet has allowed us to see the impact Social Enterprises are having, and enabling us to study them. Women's Bean Project in Denver, Colorado not only sells there products locally; but, is able to have a worldwide customer base through their website and Wal-Mart.com. Many of our college students want to have a career that provides an income while making a change in the world. By studying model organizations that have created an effective Social Enterprise, they can gather inspiration and knowledge. Some Social Enterprises that are worthy of studying can be found on www.se-alliance.org Here is an excerpt from Seth Godin's blog "Non-profits have a charter to be innovators": "Non-profits have an obligation to be leaders in innovation, but sometimes they hesitate. One reason: "We're doing important work. Our funders count on us to be reasonable and cautious and proven, because the work we're doing is too important to risk failure." One alternative: "We're doing important work. Our funders count on us to be daring and bold and brave, because the work we're doing is too important to play it safe." This is the reason we have to educate the non-profit and philanthropic sectors about social entrepreneurship.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review conducted a webinar recently; in that webinar social entrepreneurs from 4 countries spoke on their experiences in the social enterprise sector. Although social enterprise is in the early adopter phase, it has become a mainstream topic of conversation around the world. Will you join the conversation? I look forward to hearing from you.

Social Enterprise: Is It a Necessity

They say necessity is the mother of invention. After the recession of 2008, government funding declined for social programs. Despite recovery, we will probably never see the same level of government funding again. The major reason, in my opinion, is that health care costs are expected to grow at twice the rate of state revenue growth over the next 20 years. This is due to an aging population and spiraling health care costs. Have you heard that approximately 8,000 people a day are turning 65?!

What does health care have to do with social enterprise? Well, as a result of government funding cuts there are fewer resources available for human services. Programs that address workforce development Cafe Reconcile , higher education , recidivism rates, poverty, and homelessness are an investment in long-term social and economic growth. These programs are imperative to a healthy society, and can be addressed by successful models of social enterprise.

As one who has been immersed into these social ills of our society, I am passionate about promoting the idea of social enterprise. I have always been entrepreneurial; but, being entrepreneurial AND addressing social ills of our society is a win-win-win. The approach to social enterprise needs to integrate the best practices of the non-profit sector with the business acumen of the for-profit sector. As I have interviewed several senior level executives in the for-profit sector recently, they typically feel that non-profits do not have the business acumen for social enterprise, thus hindering them to achieve important long-term outcomes. There are times I agree with this statement. The non-profit world has long since been known to operate on a shoestring and focus on the mission; this usually meant eliminating best practices used by the for-profit sector. What is the solution if those leading the non-profit organizations in our communities don't have the necessary business acumen? (Stay tuned for Part 2)

Soles4Soles Hikes to Costa Rica with an Orlando Writer

One question: “Will you go?” While I was in Nashville, I met a staff member, Lisa Pointe, from Soles4Souls. She kindly gave me a tour after I expressed my interest in social enterprise. From that initial contact I was asked to join a team from Ohio State University that would be doing a shoe distribution in Costa Rica in May and cover the story. What an opportunity! What an adventure!

A simple request is about to change the lives of several and I get to watch it unfold live.

As I landed I was greeted by 10 student athletes, their advisors from OSU, and Taylar Proctor from Soles4Souls. We boarded the bus and headed to our host facility in San Jose. The first evening was uneventful, settling in and doing introductions. Although the students came from Ohio State, home of the Buckeyes, most didn’t know each other.

The next morning though, we boarded the bus early to head to our first shoe distribution at a local school. The team of OSU athletes were diving in, sorting sizes, fitting shoes on little feet, and putting smiles on the little faces. While the kids waited their turn some of our team played soccer, jump rope, and basketball with the Costa Rican children; others put Buckeye “tattoos” on the kids. This team came to serve and serve they did! In under six hours we gave out nearly 1000 pairs of shoes.

The following morning was much like yesterday. Except today we stopped on the way to the distribution site to see where these children lived. The “shanty town” was little more than tin boxes housing as many as 14 people in a home not any larger than a tool shed. Our host said it was one of the most densely populated “shanty towns” in San Jose. Heartbreaking.

These kids definitely needed shoes. The OSU athletes worked tirelessly and quickly. Today more than 800 shoes were given out in under four hours! Again, the athletes didn’t just put shoes on the feet of the students; they interacted and played with them putting ear-to-ear smiles on their faces.

Saturday we were up at 5:00 am to take a bus ride (fully loaded with students and shoes with barely enough room to sit!) for three hours before hopping in a water taxi to ride upstream for an hour. The rainforest was our destination for the third shoe distribution and this was the only way of getting there. By this time the students had become friends. They bus was a frenzy of music, lively conversation, and bantering. Part of the intrigue of the week was watching these students go from nearly strangers on the same campus to a tight-knit group that want to stay in touch when they return home. Somehow serving others will break through the cliques and bind hearts and lives.

After settling in at the rainforest lodge we board the water taxi once again for a short ride upstream. The town has 400 residents and this distribution is open to all; however, due to our shoe sizes remaining we won’t be able to fit men or larger women’s feet. The team sets up quickly and welcomes the throng of people into a small school room to be sized and fitted. We are seeing moms and babes coming together, many without shoes on their feet. Each leave with a pair of shoes and a smile filled with hope on their faces. Sadly, there were some who were so used to walking barefoot, they left carrying their new pair of shoes. But, for many, entire families lives were changed that day by a pair of shoes.

Our last shoe distribution was scheduled as we descended the mountain to return to San Jose. Unfortunately, the road was closed and our team couldn’t meet the delivery of shoes to get where we needed to be. The last distribution had to be postponed for another trip.

Serving others changes lives. As nearly 2,000 pairs of shoes were given out during our six days in Costa Rica we watched the hearts of the OSU students melt. We watched athletes who had never spoken on campus connect on social media and plan to meet regularly once they returned home. We watched as the team stooped on bended knee to share a small gift, a kind word, or a hug with a child that spoke another language. Language, age, and location should never be a reason not to serve. Serving makes all of those things irrelevant and will give you an experience you’ll never forget. I know I’ll never forget how humbled and honored I felt to be invited to write about and participate in a life-changing experience. I had a front row seat as many of these students shared that they had never left the United States to serve others.

Soles4Souls doesn’t just change the lives of those who receive shoes; they change the lives of all who take a few days out of their life to serve. One question: “Will you go?”