Thursday, March 24, 2016

We've Graduated

How? That’s a question we get a bunch. Usually it’s….
  • How can we join in and make cards?
  • How can my hospital start receiving cards?
  • How do we get our logo on your site?

…but, for the very first time, we got a new question, how can I become an intern and help even more? Here’s a story from our new intern, Zachary Paez, about what inspired him to start helping Cardz for Kidz! in a new way.

A few years ago, after moving off to college, I started slowly suffering from more and more seemingly unrelated symptoms of an unknown illness. About a year and a half passed with no real understanding of what was happening, climaxing in a trip to the ER when blood work came back showing I had iron levels roughly a third of what they should be. From that point on I spent a lot of time checked into the hospital, having tests done and being laid up with my health continuing to deteriorate. Coming from an athletic background, this shift in my entire lifestyle was an immeasurably difficult issue with which to deal, but it was made more difficult by the sense of loneliness within the situation; Without even having my doctors know what was wrong with me I had no one to share in my troubles and no others going through the same situation. Fortunately, a diagnosis was reached before too much longer and I've slowly been able to wean away from the hospital, but the experience left me wanting to do something for people in similar situations. I switched my major with the intention to somehow give back to other people who have to spend time there, so the opportunity to work with Cardz for Kidz! is a fantastic opportunity and experience. A simple gesture from somebody to show you you're not alone and that you're thought of makes all the difference when you have to spend time in the hospital and to have them hand delivered to the children is something special.
The opportunity to work with and help such a caring organization means a lot to me personally.

We’re still shocked at how we’ve been growing! Just a couple years ago, we still spelled our name with S’s rather than Z’s. Less than 5 years ago, 100% of Cardz for Kidz!’s Facebook fans were friends of the founders.

But now, WE’VE GRADUATED from our early days and even have an intern who’s helping us impact more lives! Please let us know if you're interested in helping out too.

Thanks to Zakk, we can’t wait to see all the fun stuff we’ll be able to showcase for 2016!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Best of Both Worlds

Not sure if you recall, but recently, we wrote a blog post about a mother and daughter (Jen & Beth) who have had a powerful impact on us. In that post, #RunsInTheFamily, we chatted about creativity in their genes, but here, we’d like to switch it up. This post will be about a helpful family, but this time it’s an essential couple, David and Shante Harrison! In order to put things in perspective let’s think of some other powerful duos.

With the elections going on, when we think of couples, we’re sure some of the first people who come to mind are the Clintons. This could be the first time when both a husband and wife were at one point in time, arguably, the most powerful person in the world! 

But, we’ve seen enough of the commercials so let’s think of some other powerful duos we can compare our couple too. We did some Google searching and here are some potential comparisons:
  • Adam and Eve – as you’ll see later, Dave and Shante were early, but technically not the first
  • Simba and Nala – hmmm… not exactly
  • Bonnie and Clyde – No our couple is NOT a pair of criminals
  • Romeo and Juliet – no, this is a true story…. and, we think their families get along
  • Jay-Z and Beyonce – wait a minute… what do you think?

David & Shante                            Jay-Z & Beyonce

Okay, maybe that’ll work. What we need to show is that they’re both AMAZING on their own, but even more impressive when they’re together. First, in order to make sure Jay-Z and Beyonce were good on their own we asked our friend Google. Here’s what she showed:

Search: “Top 10 rappers of all time”

Search: "Top 10 female singers of all time"

So, both Jay-Z and Beyonce are in the Top 5 so, I guess they’ll work. Plus, their video on YouTube got a couple views –

Now, let’s get to business and describe why the Harrisons are so impressive.

First, we have to start out with our standard “100% open and honest” view behind the scenes. Not only have David and Shante made lasting impacts, they were also there in the beginning. He led the first event at PHD in Q3 2012 while she started things at Huron Consulting Group in Q4 2012. Here’s some proof. 

A screenshot of our tool that we use to keep track of where the cards are coming from.

Currently there are 70+ different groups in the “Participation” column that is consistently growing. One thing that’ll never change is that Huron Consulting Group and PHD Media will always be one of the first ten groups who EVER held an event and at the top of our list.

If we want to be a bit more impressive, our founder was working at Ogilvy and started the events for the first 3 groups. Then he moved on to a new company and personally reached out to a couple sales people he used to connect to to make cards (“Partners”). With that in place, PHD Media was the first group to ever host an event without our direct help. Then Huron Consulting Group was #3 (only behind MorningStar – started by the founder’s college classmate).

Now here’s why we think they’re above and beyond.

Mr. Harrison:
David Harrison helped us get going in social media. On top of that, he got things started at PHD. So far, PHD has produced over 480 cards. In addition, they hosted a PHD Big Hug event to raise almost $7,000 and 100% of those funds were donated to Cardz for Kidz!. Thanks to them we were able to create our website!

Now that’s hard to top right? Let’s see how she’s helped.

Mrs. Harrison:
Shante Harrison independently started things off at Huron Consulting Group’s Chicago office. No one at the company had heard of our organization and/or our founder. As of March 2016, Huron Consulting Group has made nearly 400 cards. In addition, they have raised $374 from their New York office. What’s impressive about that is Shante has been able to inspire multiple offices within her company to connect with our kids. That will definitely help us grow!

Well either way we look at it, both David and Shante have been essential in helping us get started, and valuable in helping us grow. There’s one couple who’s been dominating the music market and another who’s positively “dominated” Cardz for Kidz!.

We’re thankful that between the Harrisons, we’ve received the BEST OF BOTH WORLDS; enough money to start our website and purchase gifts for hospitals AND nearly 1,000 cards.

Side note: So both Jay-Z and Beyonce have gone platinum a couple times, now let’s see who can go platinum first between our very own power couple.

#BestOfBothWorlds #UpliftingSpirits

To see more pictures and stories please check out our website, like us on Facebook page, follow us on Twitter , visit our Google+ page, or visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Piece of Paper

As discussed last week, this blog post will be in first person as well; Ike, Founder of Cardz for Kidz!

One piece of paper.

Worthless, right? I mean, you always see those signs and clippings about the thousands of trees that are cut down to make paper. Signs that show how/why it’s important we recycle since so much paper is thrown away and not important. While that’s all true, but we have to remember that some pieces of paper are cherished and kept forever.

A couple years ago I wrote the blog post about meeting “Penelope” at Mott Children’s Hospital and how that was uplifting. The post ended with some images from the inspirational wall of my place out in Chicago. The first image was the clipping of a news article, (piece of paper) from the Ann Arbor News. It’s all about a bowler, Becky Arend, who nearly set records after having brain surgery.

Here’s one of my recent Facebook post that describes why this piece of paper is so valuable to me and its impact.

As I touched on in that Facebook post, thankfully, I was able to set up a meeting with Becky during a real tough time. It was great because we met up right after her league. We connected on all kinds of interesting stories and she told me that although it’s 10+ years old, she still has a copy of the article too. I wonder if it’s framed and laminated like mine!! J Either way, I’m thankful we were able to meet up and that I got her autograph.

Who knows? With the amount of effort you put into your piece of paper, aka homemade card, you may provide long term encouragement. Although we can’t guarantee a child is going to laminate your card, frame it and use Google to find you in order to get your autograph, we can guarantee that what may seem like just a PIECE OF PAPER (simply 1 of 10000+ cards we’ve shipped) may be what encourages a child for years.

#PieceOfPaper #UpliftingSpirits

To see more pictures and stories please check out our website, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, visit our Google+ page, and/or visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out a couple videos on YouTube!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Today's Heroes

Now that the Secret’s Out, I’m going to share these next two blogs in first person – Ike Nwankwo. These two posts will explain what I know Cardz for Kidz! is doing, as well as some potential impacts. Don’t worry, third party will return soon! J

Heroes. Brave. Strong. Smart | Criminal. Corrupt. Racist | Caring. Artistic….

We were trying to think of some words that people often use to describe police officers. Growing up in Ann Arbor, MI and thanks to Officer Ehnis and my D.A.R.E. class, my impression of police officers would be described with the first four words. On top of that, one of our long time family friends was a police officer as well. They were my personal heroes.

A couple years ago I moved away from Chicago back to Michigan for a job. Although I’m back in Chicago (the big C) all the time due to the little c’s (clients, condo, cardz for kidz, comrades), I still only get little glimpses of what’s taking place in the city that I love. Unfortunately, a couple of those glimpses have been pretty negative recently. I saw clips in the news about officers who shot and killed unarmed black men in the city. Although it took place years ago, from what I understand the video was just released. I don’t have all the details on those stories so I don’t know for sure what happened, but I do know those images were pretty shocking. Also, the coverage of police brutality is more frequent in the news and is continually growing across the country. With all of that going on, there are several people who agree with the middle three words or phrases.

However, in amidst of all this, there are some officers making a positive impact. Now, something I know for sure….some officers can best be described by the last two adjectives; Caring and Artistic. And this gentleman from Michigan is not simply claiming those aspects based on news story, but due to my personal experience with officers and Cardz for Kidz!.

We chatted about it during some prior posts, but Q4 2015 was a record setting quarter! Thanks to groups such as Lycee Francais de Chicago, AICPA, Morningstar, DePaul University, and QuickenLoans, we received a total of 2,498 cards. If you do the math that’s like receiving over 25 cards a day! As you can imagine the stakes were up real high in order to get into the coveted Top 10. Thankfully this quarter we were able to connect with the OFFICIAL judge and she worked with her husband to narrow down the 100 or so final cards to 10. There were discussions about which Minion cards they should keep. How many cards one specific artists should have. If they should limit the amount of animal cards. But one thing that wasn’t discussed was the super hero card that was made by the Lynwood Police Department.

“You’re much stronger than you think you are. Remember that bravery is not the lack of fear. But the ability to move forward in spite of fear. The brave men and women of the Lynwood Police Department stand beside you and your bravery. Be Brave.”

As soon as she saw the card, our official judge immediately moved it to her “keep” pile–bypassing even the “Let me get Ken’s opinion/perspective” pile. And as you can see with the Top 10, Q4 2015 was the perfect combination of quality and quantity.

From what we were told by the police department, one gentleman was the artist behind the Captain America image on the front. Then they all worked together and made sure everyone signed the inside of the card, before placing a picture of the whole force inside, too.

As if that wasn’t enough, they did even more: the department came to Lurie Children’s Hospital and interacted with patients! You’d be surprised how hard it is to get a hold of the top artists AND get them to come to Lurie to deliver their cards during a Cardz WITH Kidz! event. (Seemed like in Q4 2015 it was a bit more difficult… We could not get a hold of our contact at the company that had 4 of the Top 10 cards. Another one of the artists stated that the weekend didn’t work for them. Thinking back, maybe we should have expected people might to be too busy on Valentine’s Day rather than simply thinking of coming to make cards! J)

We reached out a couple different ways and were thankfully able to get a hold of Deputy Chief Terrence Shubert. He then connected us to Josh Watson, the artists who drew the Captain America image on the front. They both agreed to drive to Chicago on Sunday, February 14, to personally come uplift the spirits of children and families who could not leave the hospital on Valentine’s Day.

Similar to every stereotype and proclamation, I can’t say ALL officers are the last two adjectives: Caring. Artistic. However, I can say that I’m thankful I got to meet TODAY’S HEROS and work with some officers in the Lynwood Police Department who definitely are caring and very artistic!

#TodaysHeroes #UpliftingSpirits

To see more pictures and stories please check out our website, like us on Facebook page, follow us on Twitter , visit our Google+ page, or visit our LinkedIn page! Also, check out some of our videos on YouTube!