COVID Times: Nonprofit Comes Home To Lakewood
COVID-19 forced many workers to set up home offices during the stay-at-home order for nonessential travel earlier this year. That included two-thirds of the nonprofit, because I said I would’s staff returning to Lakewood from their Rocky River headquarters to work remotely from their homes. Because I said I would was founded in 2012 by two Lakewood residents, Founder, Alex Sheen whose father’s greatest attribute was being a man of his word, and Co-Founder, Amanda Messer whose early life was fraught with the pain of broken promises. Together, they started a social movement to better humanity through promises made and kept. The organization accomplishes this through volunteer projects, individual action plans, character education programming, tools, resources and inspirational content.
In addition to adjusting to new work-from-home protocols, because I said I would has had to endure the loss of eighty percent of its operating revenue, which came from motivational speaking engagements and character education workshops in schools, prisons and juvenile detention centers. All have been suspended due to the pandemic. Many would simply give up under such conditions, but with HOPE being one of the elements of its CODE OF HONOR, the small but mighty, nimble staff quickly set to work refocusing its efforts on a COVID-19 response. This has resulted in hundreds of volunteers sewing and distributing nearly 15,000 fabric face masks to local healthcare facilities and protesters who have taken to the streets in recent weeks; meals being provided to frontline essential workers so they would have one less thing to think about during the initial peak of the crisis; inspiring tens of thousands of individuals with their viral public service announcements and social media posts to make and keep promises to stay home, endure isolation, calm civil unrest and support others; and most recently offering accountability programming to law enforcement agencies to assist with systemic change.
But all this good work doesn’t pay the bills. Despite a timely, compelling application for first round stimulus funding through the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), because I said I would’s submission was not even considered before funding ran out. Discouraged but determined, the organization once again returned to its hometown for support. With the assistance of First Federal of Lakewood, they were able to secure PPP funding when the second stimulus was approved for distribution. This has bought the organization some time to continue its COVID-19 response and plan for its future.
In doing so, with the understanding that there are higher causes like foodbanks in this time of crisis and knowing money is tight for many, Alex is making unique personal sacrifices to fundraise for his beloved charity. From his unconventional retirement portfolio, he is donating a 1960 Mercury Comet to be raffled off in the coming months. To increase its value without burdening supporters by asking for monetary donations, because I said I would has launched the Fill the Comet Challenge, instead asking for collectible donations to include in the automobile prize. If you have something you’d like to donate (e.g. autographed memorabilia, collectible action figure, rare rookie card), please visit becauseisaidiwould.org/comet to learn more.
Even more precious than his Comet, Alex is offering his time as part of an “embarrassingly titled” Ultimate Alex Sheen Experience Sweepstakes. This includes all expenses paid, behind the scenes experiences, public speaking and accountability coaching, merchandise and more. It is certain to be a life changing experience for one lucky winner. You have to see it to believe it! Details can be found at becauseisaidiwould.org/ultimateexperience. No purchase necessary. Entries also available by donation. Fundraising Teams and Champions needed.
Since its early days, because I said I would has touched the lives of millions around the world with its Promise Cards, programming and message. If you can help sustain this homegrown, humanitarian treasure through these difficult times so that it can continue its mission, please visit becauseisaidiwould.org to donate, volunteer or participate in the movement. Let them know Lakewood’s “got their back” and they’re always welcome home.