18 and Counting

By Dawn Brown

18 and Counting

Eighteen years ago, Jessica Simpson was married to Nick Lachey and asked the world, publicly, if she was eating chicken or tuna because the outside of the tuna can said, ‘Chicken of the Sea’.  That’s when someone in my family might say, ‘You’re so pretty” because it’s a good thing she at least had that going for her, if nothing else.


I love to look back at what happened in the years where big things took place in my life.  In fact, my go-to wedding and baby shower gift is one copy of Time Magazine’s Annual ‘The Year in Review’ and one copy of People Magazine’s ‘Yearbook’ for the year their special occasion took place.  I typically order these in January and send them to my friends who were so busy planning for their momentous event the prior year that they might have missed some really big news.  It’s always a hit, unexpected in January long after their occasion took place, and a definite keeper for the time capsule.

The year 2005 also brought the premiere of How I Met Your Mother, the oh-so-in-love Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch declaring his undying love of Katie Holmes (Spoiler Alert:  His love died!), and a Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher wedding.

And it was 18 years ago this week that I joined the Community Foundation. Wow, 18 years! My team planned an amazing Ted Lasso Biscuits with the Boss-style celebration yesterday filled with mustaches, goldfish, and hot brown water (That’s what Ted calls tea). They also filled the office with inspirational quotes from my favorite show. Check out these gems!

You can even take a quick tour of the par-tay, sans Sherri’s ah-mazing biscuits, via video, if you want to enjoy their cleverness as much as I did.

But this is my favorite pic…the CoFo team adorned with Ted Lasso mustaches.

I adore those smiling mustached faces. In fact, it would be difficult to work anywhere for 18 years if you didn’t enjoy the people you enter the arena with every day.

Ah, the arena. I recently quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s famous Man in the Arena speech at a community development conference that we hosted a couple of weeks ago. It’s a profound piece of prose, especially when the work you do doesn’t come in the form of a Ted Lasso celebrations every day.

It goes like this:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

These amazing, passionate, brilliant, hard-working, hilarious, dedicated women that I get to work with, are in the arena with me every day. And, yes, some days our faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood. We make mistakes and we sometimes come up short because we dare greatly.

They also know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions that it takes to be a remarkable community leader, asset developer, thoughtful grantmaker. They have many times known the triumph of high achievement and I predict that will be a theme that winds throughout their lives. They are neither timid nor cold-souled. They’re brave and bold and beautiful—and I love them.

Perhaps as one of our many donors, you don’t get to peek behind the curtain often. You see our creative side and how we make a strong case for you to donate for the betterment of Grant County. You’ll see us brag about our grantees and speak to groups about the importance of building a strong endowment for the legacy and longevity of the community. And all that stuff is wonderful, and we’ll continue to do it.

But it doesn’t mean the work isn’t hard. In fact, it’s a bit worse. The work is hard, but they make it look easy. There are non-profit employees all over Grant County who struggle daily to get all the work done with small staffs, who are figuring out how to make ends meet to address the more pressing needs of their clients with sparse budgets, who love what they do but are so burned out that they question how much longer they can do it. None of those people think they’ll last 18 years. I certainly didn’t. But it is possible.

Non-profit work is necessary, and it does improve the quality of life in your community. And those who do the work are typically weary warriors, unsung heroes, who need the support of the community they serve.

Ted Lasso is quoted as saying, “I think things come into our lives to help us get from one place to a better one.” It’s possible that you came into the life of a non-profit or a non-profit leader to help this community get from one place to a better one. Perhaps you can you hop into the arena by donating or volunteering or encouraging—it’s all needed.

I do know one thing for sure, those people that you spend 40+ hours each week with matter. I simply could not do the work I do (and would not want to continue to do this work) without this remarkable CoFo Team. So, I wanted to publicly thank them for joining me in the arena. Because it’s truly not the critic who counts, those are a dime a dozen. It’s actually the women in the arena—Thank you Sherri, Shelly, Meagan, and Hannah. Keep fighting the good fight!

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