I had no idea. Literally no idea, about the impact that my decision to create and start Bracken’s Kitchen would have on so many people. I guess there are a lot of people walking through life wondering if there isn’t something more. Something more meaningful, something more heart felt or just something more that they should be doing. “What is the meaning of life?” is a question that has been asked for generations. After all, deep inside of every one of us is a longing and desire to know that in some small way, it has made a difference that we have lived.
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Donnie Crevier is on a mission to help kids who need, and want, a hand up. Crevier reveals that this impetus is rooted in his own childhood. Despite growing up in the affluent community of Laguna Beach, Crevier remembers the many challenges his single mother faced. As they moved from apartment to apartment, Donnie found stability at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach – which he remains deeply connected to as a member of its board of directors.
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Je’net Kreitner has a great story of turning life’s harshest lessons into life’s greatest blessings. Shortly after a very poor relationship ended badly, Je’net and her young son we’re dropped on the side of the road with nowhere to go. She and her son became part of the growing homeless population. After a hopeless six months of struggling to survive on the streets and bouncing from one motel to another, an angel entered her life.
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Sue Koch spent most of her career in the Engineering and Construction industry. Her career chose her more than she chose it. Sue started out as a data entry processor, knowing from the beginning that she wanted to learn, grow, and become something more. She just didn’t have a clue about who that might be.
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I thought I was going to retire from the company. In my twenty years at the firm, I had moved from an entry level sales rep position to leading our corporate divisions in Latin America, Europe, North America and finally the global team. During those years, we quadrupled revenue and became the most profitable division in the company. I loved it and I really couldn’t image the company surviving without me, or more truthfully, me surviving without the company.
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In 1990, Jerri Rosen was President of J.L. Rosen & Company, blending 25+ years of marketing communications experience in developing results-oriented planned giving and development programs for nonprofit organizations. At the same time that she started her own ad agency, Jerri and five friends found themselves disturbed by the growing statistics of domestic violence. The group set out on a mission to help.
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Marla Noel has a long and distinguished business history. Trained as a CPA, Marla began her career as an accountant aiming to run her own firm. She shifted gears, though, and ended up pursuing audit work in corporate America, working for May Co., Seely Wolf, and finally Fairhaven Memorial Park and Mortuary where she rose to the President’s position.
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In September 1999, the word “autism” rang through my ears like a cannon shot across the bow. My husband and I knew something was not going well with our son Jeff, but we would have never guessed it was autism.
Following that fateful visit with the neurologist, we visited many other professionals, including medical doctors, speech pathologists, audiologists, and behaviorists. The list seemed endless. The common message we were given: Autism has no hope, no cure. In fact, the first three medical doctors recommended that my family find “institutional placement” for Jeff who was the ripe old age of 2½ years at the time.
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It’s a little-known secret that there exists a pernicious cycle of teen mothers whose children often also become pregnant as teenagers. But that fact wasn’t known to Ali Woodard, an adopted child whose birth mother was a teenager. Ali grew up as many southern California kids did, which made it all the more difficult when she became pregnant at age 16. Embarrassed and ashamed, Ali told no one about her plight and “handled it” the only way she could imagine with the help of Planned Parenthood. With that behind her, Ali continued her life, getting a degree from Cal State Long Beach and embarking on a successful career as the executive assistant to top business executives running some of California’s most successful companies.
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Charles Antis wants to live life for his purpose, which is to help ignite the passion for a personal cause in everyone. But he didn’t always feel that way. At age 19, a student at BYU in Utah, Charles went on a traditional Mormon mission to Thailand. Uncomfortable about pushing his family’s religion over Buddhism, he struggled to find fulfillment.
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In this stage of my life, I think about the values, hopes, and dreams I most want to leave our children and grandchildren. How will my story be told and what will my legacy be?
It’s clear to me that legacy is not about wealth but about your actions—how they will define you, and how they will impact others. A legacy is something bigger than who you are today. It is more than what you did this week, this month, or even this year. A legacy is something you are creating right now, whether you realize it or not.
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When Richard Ward approached me to write a column about myself for successwithpurpose.org, I was flattered, amused and hesitant. Richard has been my financial advisor for three decades and my BFF for nearly half a century. There was no way I could say, “No, thank you.” And so I write.
Since early childhood I knew that I would be an Episcopal priest, a US Senator, or a Supreme Court justice. At age 20 I looked under the hood of politics and scratched the goal of being a Senator.
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Stan Hinden, a Washington Post business journalist, passed away recently at 90. In an obituary tweet, columnist David Ignatius wrote, “In addition to his column for [our Washington Post] Business section, Stan wrote a wonderful book called ‘How to Retire Happy.’ He did.”
I think they’ll be able to say that about me, too.
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During my junior high and high school years, my three brothers, our parents and I often packed our lives into 214-square-foot motel rooms. Feelings of shame, lack of privacy, and an economically schizophrenic childhood created an environment where the basic elements of being a kid were sometimes lost, like doing homework.
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As a young boy I can remember looking forward in life and knowing the kind of life I wanted … the “American Dream.” I wanted to achieve great status, accomplish much, have a lot of money, and have the “perfect” family.
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John Guastaferro, CFRE, is an award-winning marketing executive, nonprofit leader, and professional magician! That’s right, beyond John’s career with the YMCA and his leadership with several philanthropic organizations, John is an internationally-acclaimed author and magician. He has lectured and performed across nine countries and can often be seen headlining at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.
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Describing my volunteer involvements, I am now aware that my commitment to give community service was an exercise in good karma: volunteering actually gave me so much more of a return than the time and effort I gladly donated!
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Growing up in England during World War II. I personally experienced poverty and saw the need for having people who cared and were willing to give to others. My maternal grandmother a petite lady rode her bike around her village offering her nursing skills and warm caring. She was my role model that helped determine my career in nursing. As a young girl I volunteered with the British Red Cross and at 16 worked in a children’s convalescent facility, with children from poor homes with chronic diseases.
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It started with lunch at the Center Club. Richard and I serve on an advisory council together and he suggested we get together and learn a little more about each other. After a fascinating few hours swapping background stories and past endeavors, Richard told me about “Success with Purpose” and asked me to tell my story… and here it is.
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I have been a 30 year plus community member of Orange County. Currently serve as President/CEO of the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce serving the second largest city in Orange County (375,000 people). In 2016, founded the INSTITUTE for Community Impact focused on helping individuals and organizations impact their communities through the (7) Pillars for Influence: Arts and Entertainment, Business, Social Services, Faith community, Education, Government and Healthcare.
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As a long time, Orange County resident and now retired Financial Planner, Bob has been giving back for over 25 years.
His non-profit experience started when he was asked to help the Orange County American Heart Association’s Planned Giving Council, which led to his eventually becoming the Board Chairman.When he stepped down, he realized there was no training for volunteer leaders and started the Non-Profit President’s Forum providing quarterly learning sessions for the Presidents and Chairs of local non-profits.
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My story begins as an undergraduate student at the University of Wiscon-sin-Oshkosh. I came there with a basic understanding that one of my career goals was to make a difference and help other people. I was blessed to take a psychology course with Dr. Gordon Filmer-Bennett. He was a part time instructor and worked as Chief Psychologist at Winnebago State Hospital. After the first class, I wanted to do what Gordon does. It had in my heart and soul. I changed my major to psychology and never looked back.
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I’m a workaholic, ambitious, driven individual living the crazy, chaotic entrepreneur life. You know, the one where you have a million ideas in your head, build on too many of them at a time, and then either get bored with or over analyze your ideas with little to no results to show for it. Or, finally get the business off the ground, and hit the next roadblock. The same vicious cycle, over and over again.
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Raised by a single mother in the City of Anaheim, Brandon started his sales and marketing career working with one of the oldest automotive families in Orange County, The Hardin Family. From a Greeter position at the age of 16 while still attending Katella High School, he left as the Internet Sales Manager at 19 to pursue high line sales at House of Imports across the county. He later spent a few years dabbling in the mortgage arena until the housing market and fall of subprime lending.
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Shawn Wehan lives a life of purpose, which, in his case, is to help bridge the gap between the needs of the community and the gifts and talents of its members. As Shawn puts it, “The world is full of people who want to be a force for good. They sometimes just don’t know where to start.”
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It was a Quest that empowered me to combine my love of philanthropy with my work. I have been very active in the nonprofit community for years and when my kids went off to college I realized that I could change my career, but to what? So began the quest.
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Michelle Wulfestieg had her first stroke when she was eleven years old, which led to the diagnosis of a rare vascular brain lesion, known as an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), or a tangle of blood vessels and arteries. With no other options, she underwent two very intense forms of radiation, which caused permanent paralysis to the right side of her body. She had to learn how to do everything with her left hand as she mourned the loss of all the activities she used to be able to do – running, playing sports, and just being a kid.
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After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from California State University Long Beach, I had planned to return college to become a teacher and eventually a school principal. As life would take a turn shortly after graduation, I began working for my sorority sister’s father Randal Waltito build a CEO Coaching and management consulting firm for the technology sector.
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I’ve been doing HR since I was 16 years old when the neighbor wanted to hire me to do his payroll. My career since then has been beautiful mix of hard work and opportunity. Through my HR career I began volunteering at Working Wardrobes, coaching men and women who are transitioning back into the workforce out of some type of difficult life situation: homelessness, abuse, addiction, sex trafficking, and veterans entering civilian life. I give blood, donate money, feed and clothe the homeless.
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Antoinette comes from a large and hardworking family. Her mother, born to a tribe of farmers, is the first of nine children and her father, born in the inner city, is the youngest of six. Seeking a life of stability, her parents immigrated to the United States where Antoinette was born and afforded all the opportunities of the American Dream.
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