Monday, December 12, 2011

The Path to Wisdom

Have you wondered in life why your journey takes you down a specific road that defies any intellectual explanation?

It seems that I experience such encounters more often than the norm.

I lived my first two decades in Lebanon and battled the unfortunate reality of the destruction of war. Despite surviving and thriving in this situation, I found myself debating certain choices that faced me every single day.

For me, the obvious choice was to leave the country after 15 years of war. I witnessed my neighbors emigrating within their own borders. I saw their precious pride undermining logic. Hospitality—which many believe was invented in Lebanon— took a complete 180 degree reversal. It felt as if no space within the geographic confines of the land could maintain and sustain the three million hearts that pumped every day in fear of an uncertain tomorrow.

I often questioned with every living vein in my body, “what the heck is wrong with our leaders?” and “why we can’t get along despite our differences?” The Lebanese invented the alphabet and exported goods to the world through the oldest continually active seaport, but we failed to understand the written words of wisdom and comprehend that words with no action mean nothing.

One united voice means everything.

Leaving was the hardest decision of my life. I felt squashed by society’s expectations of women’s role. The immense pressured by the modesty of my family was crushing. I was driven to discover the desire of my soul and the true meaning of freedom. Inspired by the idea of a land where the sun rises listening to the melody of birds and the greenery whispering melodies of peacefulness, I found myself crashing into walls of silence. I had to save what was left of me. It was my destiny to leave. I never expected that the land I dreamt about was actually in my backyard.

Equipped with nothing but a “hello” in English (“ALO” in Arabic), America became my second home; a place that would eventually adopt every emotion, drop of sweat, mountains of perseverance and my greatest intellectual accomplishments. Never once did my mind wander from what the ideal of Lebanon should be. However, I soon realized that the injustice of what I ran away from followed me here to my new home.

Misconceptions of cultural heritage – coupled with its outright negative promotion – were spread with a wide swath throughout the States. It was spread without any regard to true understanding of what life is like in other nations. I decided to carry the torch on behalf of my own people and begin a dialogue of bridging the gaps from both sides. I did it so I could find peace from within. I invested my life into philanthropy and publishing of ALO magazine.

I have gone through horrifying experiences, challenges that a native citizen would have crumbled under pressure, or spent a fortune at their time and money with a shrink but I had the courage to chose my battles and bite the bullets and keep marching forward for the betterment of others. Indeed, as if my own destiny is in the hand of unforeseen power being pushed through these doors of non prediction or the unexpected. Through it all, resides some of the most cherished moments of my life, a place where my joy filters through my soul and pours tears of resurrection.

Through all of the horrifying experiences, some of my most cherished moments are back home. When I remember those uplifting times, my soul pours tears of resurrection. This is how I felt last month when I took a delegation of journalists to Lebanon.

With a group of journalists from the U.S., we headed on a road of discovery to the Bekaa Valley. What’s funny and sad at the same time is that I have traveled the world, but never was able to step foot into the Bekaa Valley. It’s just an hour away from where I use to live in the city of Beirut but because of conflict and war restrictions never was possible.

During our drive to Bekaa, it struck me that for the first time in my life I was bonding with my roots. Tears were frozen in my eyes and a sense of madness overcame me as we witnessed the beauty of the land and surroundings.

How can we destroy a country that was the birth of civilization?

~We stood in the face of the Crusaders, repelling their invasions.

~We kept Alexander the Great at a distance for over a decade.

~We rebuilt the country after being overtaken by earthquakes and tsunamis seven times!

With all of our pride and intellect, we never move ahead and build the infrastructure to become a global archeological and tourism hub for the world.

With the Mediterranean Sea behind us and the mountains of snow above us, I felt as if we were flying above ground, admiring the touch of God as he gave Lebanon a special treatment of nature. It gave me time to reflect. I reaffirmed my commitment to support my country and lend a helping hand to the underserved, women and children and the physically challenged. I was all smiles being in Lebanon again, grounded with a philanthropic mission of delivering 1000 hearing aids to those in need.

Many would avoid the Bekaa Valley. It’s known as a place where there is massive drug growing, a training ground and THE hub for the country’s militias. This is a place where once no Americans would set foot. Today it’s different. With the hashish trade being shut down by government, locals were forced to focus on agricultural endeavors. Here in the middle of it all, I felt the need to stop at one of the local’s house and visit. I convinced the bus driver to stop so I could act on my instinct.

I chose a specific house, but please don’t ask why. It called to me in the same way a specific pastry might call you at your favorite bakery. “There is something about this place” I insisted. The house was small and humble – barely the size of a normal living room. More than 10 adults and children live and sleep there.

The lady of the house, looking much older than her true late thirties, greeted me with a smile. “Ahlan!” she said (“welcome in Arabic). Her face carried the burden of her hard life. Yet, her beautiful hospitality lit the room. She guided us into the house and her mother sat on the floor dicing organic olives with her bare hands. She looked at us with amazement wondering who we are.

While some of the journalists on the delegation used the open air bathroom sheltered only by a cloth curtain, I was drawn to the old women. She was easily in her seventies, but her hands word magic with the olives. I asked her what she was doing to fully understand her theory of making olives. I didn’t get a response. Her daughter stepped in to let me know that her mother cannot hear and she has been deaf for years. She explained that the family was unable to afford the cost of hearing aids.

I looked at the lady in shock… is that possible? I chose to stop at a stranger’s house while I am on a mission to install hearing aids and here it is a woman who couldn’t afford to be helped.

For few minutes, I felt at home; humble and happy beyond explanation. We were, treated with such warmth from a random family in the middle of Bekaa Valley. Who knew that my most precious and meaningful moment on this trip would come from a simple and unexpected stop?

I promised the old woman that she WILL be receiving hearing aids from the ALO Cultural Foundation and that help will be on the way very soon. Nothing can describe the emotional hug and kiss on my forehead she gave me upon understanding the news. Her prayers echoed the rest of my trip in Lebanon and upon my return back to the US. These prayers paved new steps on my path of wisdom.

Today, I reflect again on the past, assess my priorities in life and determine some of the choices that remain ahead. For me, raising awareness about the underserved and their challenges will remain my passion for life.

For 2012, I urge the world to put aside any perceptions, religion differences and false pride and reach within your giving heart to the world. Let us be the leader in showing that it's possible for all of us to overcome the challenge of unity and tolerance. Let's take a trip together so you can witness for yourself what togetherness can do

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Poem from my heart to yours...

I once imagined to fly
up high
above the sky
celebrating your life
igniting the world
dancing with the stars

I once ran against the wind
spreading my wings
so wide
sheltering those crying bodies
washing their tears
erasing the weight of darkness

I once challenged the rising of the waves
building a city of courage
watching over you with my eyes awake
keeping the balance of souls

I once thought of ways
to make you all smile
I once made it to heaven

I dreamed of returning as Santa Claus
to give the world its happiness

Humanity has no Nationlity _ Wafa Kanan

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Tribute to World Peace

An act of violence will never break the spirit of survivors - a tribute to world peace

From the ashes, we rise for freedom

Freedom from violence, war, deception and prejudice of that man makes

We hold hands, united in honor of those who sacrificed themselves to build our heavenly future

We learn as we beat the silence of death knocking on our doors

We are the voice for life

Streets are screaming for youth and laughter changes the sound of ashes dancing with the winds

Remembering, windows are clapping from victorious massacre, eyes bleeding from tears racing to heal the wounds of our neighbors

Ghosts looking for fine skeletons to shape its desperate naked bodies

Dressing them with joy and sincerity, shouting for paparazzi with no fear

Nothing…nothing can break the souls pledging for peace and for the first time


There from far, a symphonic war zone you hear, a musical of the criminal mind we fear to encounter

Stand by me, there’s a secret among the innocence: humanity will never surrender

We will rise as believers

One global citizenship

With the rainbow of the togetherness, stronger than ever

From the ashes

We rise above those who's evil.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Additional Hearing Missions to the Middle East with the goal of donating up to 1,000 hearing aids in the next 12 months

For Immediate Release

NORTHRIDGE, California (August 25, 2011) – The ALO Cultural Foundation’s Medical Treatment Empowerment Programs continue to support local and international charities through humanitarian partnerships to identify children in need of medical relief with special circumstances in the Middle East and the United States. The Foundation is proud to announce the extension of its Forever Wish initiative in collaboration with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which has a mission that includes providing the gift of hearing to those in need around the world.

The organizations have been exploring options to provide additional hearing missions to the Middle East, enabling even greater collaboration between the two foundations. The ALO Cultural Foundation, one of the most progressive grassroots, cross-cultural awareness charities in the United States and the Middle East, and the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which delivers more than 100,000 hearing aids annually through more than 100 hearing missions a year in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam, will continue cooperating to provide the gift of hearing for the underprivileged in the Middle East.

As part of the continued efforts to reach out to underserved global communities, the two foundations successfully worked together during the ALO Cultural Foundation’s mission toLebanon. As a result, ALO founder Wafa Kanan arranged a special medical mission for Hussein Balhas to the United States. Hussein is a child with Frasier Syndrome (physical abnormalities to face and body). During the mission – possible in part through the generosity of several participating physicians and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s International Children's Surgery Fund – it was discovered that Hussein’s hearing aids could not satisfy his need for hearing instruments with simplified controls and appropriate amplification. The Starkey Hearing Foundation was able to provide a custom, quality hearing solution for Hussein. This effort enabled the ALO Foundation to enhance Hussein’s quality of life, empowering Hussein’s social interaction, education, comprehension ability and attentiveness, in addition to increasing the awareness and mission for both organizations to implement a support system for hearing aids in the region.

Since then, the Foundation has assumed the responsibility of providing lifetime support for Hussein, making it possible for him to progress. Starkey’s Middle East International Territory Manager, Giscard Bechara, checks in with Hussein regularly, reporting that Hussein has adapted very well to his new receiver-in-canal (RIC) devices. Embracing ALO’s mission to educate, empower and enlighten those in need, the organizations are exploring ways to expand their collaboration with the goal of donating up to 1,000 hearing aids in the next 12 months.

“As the partnership with the Starkey Foundation continues to grow, the underprivileged, hearing-impaired children of the Middle East will have access to a more promising future through our Forever Wish program,” says Kanan. “We are committed to delivering quality education, increased technical skills and emotional empowerment to physically challenged children - despite the deterrents of poverty, illiteracy and neglect. This fits perfectly with the spirit of the Starkey hearing Foundation.”

“It’s important for us to help the children because they’re the future of the world – and if we neglect the children, we diminish our future,” says Bill Austin, Founder of the Starkey Hearing Foundation. This partnership will enable both organizations to increasingly share capabilities – Starkey with hearing aids and ALO with developing human potential.

“Auditory perception is essential to language development and proficiency; people with hearing deficits are at a disadvantage and face enormous obstacles in life. Removing these barriers makes it possible for individuals to realize their potential and become productive members of their respective societies. From the moment his life began, Hussein confronted a multitude of complex challenges, but due to the collaboration of many individuals, his undaunted, beautiful spirit remains valiant. ALO is very proud to be a part of his victorious effort,” says Kanan.

Backed by a decade of philanthropic work, the ALO Cultural Foundation was founded to build stronger, healthier communities through social investment. The Foundation focuses on community outreach, education and empowerment programs for women, youth mentoring in theU.S. and other forms of assistance to disadvantaged communities worldwide. Through its various initiatives, such as its support of orphanages in Egypt and other surrounded countries, ALO aims to promote cultural understanding and to advocate for social change. The Foundation provides myriad educational opportunities that empower those with a thirst for life, the chance for a lifetime of learning and personal fulfillment.

About the ALO Cultural Foundation

The Foundation’s mission is to educate, empower and enlighten members of disadvantaged global communities, with special emphasis on the U.S. and the Middle East. ALO seeks to heal gaps in cultural understanding while impacting the quality of life of everyone they encounter. Through good will expeditions to the Middle East, special events and philanthropy, the Foundation offers their devotion and loyalty to the most vulnerable: women and children who require guidance during their first tenuous steps toward self sufficiency. Their programs instill the confidence necessary to transform lives and build brighter futures. ALO stands for this primary, basic tenet - that humanity has no nationality – that the ways we are all alike far out-number our differences. Key to raising our common awareness is through person-to-person contact, engagement designed to break through arbitrary geo-political boundaries and damaging stereotypes.


About The Starkey Hearing Foundation

The Starkey Hearing Foundation is striving to change the social consciousness of hearing and hearing loss prevention. Hearing loss affects one in 10 Americans, and 63 million children worldwide, yet many do not have access to the hearing devices that can help correct that disability. The Foundation has a yearly goal of giving more than 100,000 hearing aids through hearing missions in countries stretching from the U.S. to Vietnam. Since 2000, the Foundation has supplied nearly 498,000 hearing aids to people in need and is striving to achieve its goal of distributing over one million free hearing aids in this decade.

For more information on the Starkey Hearing Foundation, including the Listen Carefully campaign, visit

Monday, August 8, 2011

ADVISORY: Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans


ALO Cultural Foundation presents
Expanding Perspectives
Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans

Co-hosted by
Hon. LeRoy D. Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
ALO Magazine, America’s Top Middle Eastern Lifestyle Magazine

LeRoy D. Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
Wafa Kanan, Publisher of ALO Magazine and Founder, ALO Cultural Foundation (

Invited Guests: Hon. Governor Jerry Brown of California, Octavia Nasr, CNN's Chief Middle East correspondent for 20 years; Rima Fakih, Miss USA 2010; Joseph Hayek, Publisher of the Arab-American Almanac.

“EXPANDING PERSPECTIVES: Developing a sharper image of Middle Eastern Americans”, a unique symposium brings together corporations, media, government agencies, educational institutions, and social agencies to unify cultures and promote tolerance to become a world class citizens .

Sheriff's Department Headquarters
Media Conference Room
4700 West Ramona Boulevard
Monterey Park, CA 91754
RSVPs: ALO Cultural Foundation 818/727-7785

Tuesday, October 11, 2011, 1:00 P.M.–3:00 P.M.

The ever growing population of Middle Easterners is often misunderstood. As a nation still holding onto negative stereotypes, this symposium seeks to illustrate our similarities, facilitate diversity issues through healthy and authentic cross cultural relationships. It will seek a change for misconceptions perpetuated by the media as we present opportunities to shape public policy decision-making in an emerging community while asking “How do we shorten cultural distance and promote diversity, inclusion and understanding?”

A panel of experts from the diverse landscape of the United States will be assembled for cross-cultural collaboration. Along with Sheriff Baca, Kanan—one of the foremost experts in cross-cultural tolerance and education—opens a frank and diverse discussion between an intimate gathering of cultural, media, and business leaders, and educators that will ultimately lead to a greater understanding of Middle Easterners in America.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why the silence?

At times, listening to the news or reading some of the hundreds of news releases in my inbox brings out the best in me; other times it makes me laugh at the reality of life and current affairs.

Seldom do I devote my time to the pundits, critics and anchors of today’s media world. Today was different. Today, it inspired “activist mode” in the fire of my belly. The fire inside that I choose to bury most of the time.

I’ve had my fill of all the “go-to” sources: CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, FoxNews, MSNBC and Sky News. As I observed the dialogue and communication that kept spreading around me, I wondered about the genuine intention of the speakers and their state of mind about their perception of their listeners. Do they really think people are that stupid?

When speaking of democracy, my appreciation for opinionated people grows every day. But, there’s a difference now. They are twisting the meaning of democracy. I find it disturbing to hear some of these political commentaries injecting poison in our daily life and burden my ear with talk of death, destruction, encouraging words of government overthrows and anarchy. I know I can switch the channel and chose my own desired entertainment to enjoy, but today I cannot keep the silence.

As a matter of fact, I refuse to keep silent.

Politics and religion, these are two of the world’s most intriguing, sophisticated and complicated disciplines that have ever existed. They are at once an effective climate and the fasted way to cause trouble between people and countries. They have never mixed properly and now our leaders – pushed by the world’s media – have taken us to the point of no return.

Looking from my own microscope, I find it amusing that we to chose to rally around democracy and our allies to empower our own interests and profit. We are extremely selective about when it is appropriate to bring morality and ethics into play. It seems that we are very ethical to step in when there is an oil well around the corner or a strategic country near a prime landing area for planes and weapons. When it is not in such a lucky area or the bullied doesn’t meet our exact way of thinking, we throw human rights down the drain.

Pealing back the top few layers of the onion, I wonder, for example…

…Why we view Saudi Arabia differently than Iran?

…Why we treat Israel different than Palestine?

…Why we take sides against one party of the Lebanese government knowing that this stance will keep the country in disability mode?

...Why we view Britain – a country known for millenniums as one of the most oppressive, corrupted and destructive empires in the world – as a cultured and civilized nation?

…Why history is forgotten when it is convenient and profitable.

We take a pride in our religious freedom. We each celebrate a private relationship with God. Yet we go to war to impose our religious will on other countries. We feel that we need balance all over the world instead of choosing our allies to suit right and wrong, ethics and morality. We seem to be in a mission to convert thy neighbor. We’ve become missionary activists to show others the path for what to believe in and how to believe. Witnessing religion as a subject of segregation and hatred is a shameful act.

We have challenged our creator since the beginning and instead of learning from our past mistakes we remain unappreciative of the Earth that we are responsible for its caretaking. War and the greed of men are leading us to the crisis of mankind. We must take a very close look at democracy, its leaders, our politicians and religious figures. We have a voice, so instead of being sheep shepherded blindly behind them, we need to play a major role to bring back responsibilities. We should hire only those that will be disciplined to our Mother Earth and to the morality of living a pure life.

My solution is simple:

-Demand respect and transparency from your leaders;

-Question the authority if it is not placed for the best interest of all;

-Ask for change in the economic and political environment;

-Speak up and don’t be silent. Never jeopardize your principles for profit;

-Stop segregating in groups and become a world citizen;

-Do not judge others with guilt by association;

Do it for the sake of humanity. The ancient game of thrones shall never find its way back to our 21st century and if so, we are doomed to infinity.

Humanity has no nationality. I pledge my support to this motto of being. Do you pledge yours?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An open letter to women-owned businesses in California:

On June 27th, I had the honor to co-host and organize –- in seven short days no less -- the “Women Partnering for Economic Growth in Afghanistan conference in Sen. Curren Price’s office at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

We assembled a coalition of business leaders to hear the Hon. Muhammad Younus Naw Andaish, the Mayor of Kabul, Afghanistan discuss how he is looking forward to work with United States businesses on a multi-billion dollar infrastructure procurement projects.

The Mayor of Kabul shared valuable insight and vision he has for his country and in particular advancing women’s position and her role in society and the importance of partnering with women-owned businesses in California.

I was impressed to learn of his amazing accomplishments for the short period since he has been appointed mayor by President Karkai. Only a true leader would be able to embark such change and make an impact for his city and community.

As Afghanistan rebuilds their country, Mayor Naw Andish feels contracting in Afghanistan has emerged as a force multiplier, front and center in achieving strategic economic development.

To many this is a great business opportunity and while this is true, I believe we need to unite in solidarity for other reasons. We have sisters around the world who need champions. Women champions who are willing to understand their culture and guide their entrepreneurial spirit while maintaining their cultural values.

I speak from experience as a young woman that endured a war in her country. I lived in a war zone from age eight to 23, cheating death by running from shelter to shelter avoiding the showers of bombs. As a child I played with bullets much like children play with marbles here. My interests were great but the culture was suppressed by the law of men. At 16, I insisted to continue my education despite the social pressure for marriage. As a grownup I lost my business during the civil war. As an activist for democracy and peace I was abducted by warlords. I was saved not by the bell, but by the strength of my own will.

Many Afghan women share the same story. They are deprived from the many essentials of life. Water, electricity, income, health, stability, peace, home ... but most importantly they are unsure if there is a hopeful tomorrow.

Although I spoke no English, I was fortunate to immigrate to the United States and live the American dream. That dream has not been available to the women of Afghanistan. Women play a major role for improving the quality of life in our society and we can instill the entrepreneurial spirit in Afghan women while maintaining her cultural values.

For this purpose, I pledge my support to the WAVE Partnership Initiative,

Empowerment for economic growth in Afghanistan.

Join me as we form the advisory council. This advisory council will set the stage to develop the future of empowered Afghan women.

Through WAVE we can help Afghan women rebuild their lives and provide a window of opportunity for women-owned businesses in California.

Contact me at 818-727-7785 or as I invite you to ride the WAVE. This is the importance of today. We can make a difference. Women partnering for economic growth in Afghanistan can craft new stories, her success stories; our success stories.

See the event advisory I posted on 6/23/11: click here
Special Thank You's: click here
Click on the form to join the WAVE Partnership Initiative Advisory Council and upcoming Trade Delegations/Cultural Explorations to Kabul.


Pictured above with Hon. Muhammad Younus Naw Andaish, the Mayor of Kabul, Afghanistan

Monday, June 27, 2011

Afghanistan Conference: Special Thank You's

The "Women Partnering for Economic Growth in Afghanistan" would not have been possible without Karen Blackwell of Nestle and Asad Zafari of Afghan Business Council.

How important it is to recognize and celebrate our female heroes...or she-roes...a word coined by our great author Maya Angelou.

Karen and Asad you are true believers in “she-roes”.

The "Women Partnering for Economic Growth in Afghanistan" would not have been possible without Karen Blackwell of Nestle and Asad Zafari of Afghan Business Council.

How important it is to recognize and celebrate our female heroes...or she-roes...a word coined by our great author Maya Angelou.

Karen and Asad you are true believers in “she-roes”.

Thank you to The Valley Economic Alliance, Valley International Trade Association, Kenn Phillips, Darcy Winters and Angela Watson for their hard work leading up to the event in such a short time.

I want to thank Senator Current Price of California's 26th district, for hosting this remarkable event and for your unwavering leadership to our golden state.

I also want to thank Mayor Naw Andaish, for sharing your valuable insight and vision you have for your country.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Women Partnering for Economic Growth in Afghanistan


Women Partnering for Economic Growth in Afghanistan

Hon. Muhammad Younus Naw Andaish, Mayor of Kabul joins with California business and community leaders to underscore the importance of women’s growth in the international marketplace

Hon. Muhammad Younus Naw Andaish, Mayor of Kabul, Afghanistan
Hon. Curren Price, California State Senate, 26th District

A Woman Achieving Value and Empowerment ‘WAVE’ Partnership. This unique partnership brings together professional women who believe in helping Afghanistan redevelop their infrastructure, growing their economy and helping with women social reform.

Monday, June 27, 2012
1:00 P.M.–3:00 P.M.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90037

California State Senator Curren Price hosts an intimate gathering of women business leaders uniting them with the Mayor of Kabul, Afghanistan, his Hon. Muhammad Younus Naw Adaish. In this meeting, Sen. Price plans to encourage the local women’s business community to grow in the international marketplace by forming collaborative partnerships with the Afghani government. As Afghanistan rebuilds their country the Mayor of the largest city in Afghanistan with nearly 4-million people, feels it is vital to improve their economy by helping their internal community of women business owners.

90 minute overview program to present opportunities and barriers to economic growth, the role of women in the emerging Afghani economy, the Programs/Incentives for women to do business in Afghanistan, and the opportunities for Women and other Small Business owners to partner with Afghani to successfully compete for business in the redevelopment of the nation.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don’t be a Guest on Earth

How do we leave a lasting impression and become a model of influence? What role can we play? There’s so much communication out there. All of the opinions and conversations floating around can be confusing and controversial at times. The more we listen, the more our heads spin.

But what really gets me —- what I am really annoyed with —- are all the freeloaders out there. So, I just had to say ENOUGH and write something about it. I can sort all the slackers that I’ve met into a few select categories. However for sakes of focus, I will dive into only the most critical.

The most offensive slackers are those individuals that are not motivated to do anything for change. They refuse to take action to correct the damage we inflict on our community and environment. They are typically ladder climbers who empower their egos and status. They have the financial strength that enable them to keep their bank accounts and they pass through life without doing anything significant with it or improve the lives of so many around them that are in need.

Whatever type of person you are, I strongly believe that everyone (and I do mean everyone) should be a productive member of society by always giving back to the world instead of just taking. Whether it is a grandparent who looks after their grandchildren after school or a wealthy investor giving opportunities to those less fortunate and small qualified business, it is a matter of principle and morality to be a productive member of society.

Don’t be idle! By all means enjoy yourself, but be useful. The generosity and kindness of helping society will be well worth it for generations to come. Don’t be a Charles Barkley and be a role model. I urge you to act for the common good. Empower causes and encourage those who are not just a guest on this earth. Voice your opinion and make an impact within your own means for social change and get involved to eliminate hunger, homelessness, illiteracy, poverty and abuse with all its faces.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Developing Effective Corporate and Non-profit Partnerships

Those who commit their lives to humanitarian causes are indeed deserving of such a title. They shine like stars in people’s darkest moments, providing hope, smiles, future and life.

I am excited to share with you the heart and soul of what Unique Image represents. A journey of determination, perseverance and making a difference in everything we touch.

Being rebellious myself and an advocate for human rights and social change, I can tell you first hand that my number one rule in life is that: never take anything for granted and never give up, no matter how difficult the road or path for success is or how high the mountain might seem to be. A philosophy I live by and instill in my professional environment and a characteristic I demand of my team to embrace this simple mantra: Will do, Can do and Want to attitude. Of course they should love me first, but that’s beside the point.

This is how we approach projects, seek partnerships, and develop collaboration. We simply do not take “No” or good enough as an answer but rather focus on core values for establishing successful results for our clients, relationships and the community.

To give you some background: Back in 1999, Unique Image initiated its corporate giving U&I Vision Program and devoted some of its gross profits to help non-profit organizations. We established effective corporate and non-profit partnerships that allowed us to focus on strategic partnerships and set the expectations with our potential partners. These are key elements for a successful working relationship.

For us to ensure the success of the program, we partnered with non-profit organizations so we can provide them with the value and end results of our services. Unique Image provided turnkey solutions to a roster of 100 non-profits who benefited from our diverse services. We were able to use our resources to deliver some of the most successful campaigns from those who partnered with us. A testimonial for the importance of the value and resource development that we bring that can sustain you overtime.

How did we do it?

We use our expertise and knowledge and craft innovative campaigns for our selective clients. We ask questions, we set goals and expectations, and we draft a road map and strategy for sponsorship partnerships and the size of our immediate benefits and values. The results are to develop a strong brand that carries our clients throughout their entire journey.

When we partner with non-profit organizations to develop their humanitarian campaigns, we look into their challenges and previous successes; their outreach programs and their strategic goals. Most of the time, these non profits have not devoted energy, money or resources to build their brand in the community or spread awareness of their mission throughout their geographic and demographic target audience.

Our work to assess, evaluate and draft a cohesive focused strategy will then begin and not only have we helped our clients with fund raising and awareness but:

* we raised their brand
* standards
* image
* their name
* their reach
* and most importantly, we bring the whole community together to help them reach their goals.

Effective collaboration and communications begin with social responsibilities, identifying problems and having open and honest discussions about them. Agree on shared goals. When business needs intersect with a non-profit’s mission, cross sector collaboration can be a powerful tool for change. We use our creative with our approach and cause-related marketing and joint programs.

And sometimes with our client permission, we take a leadership role to deliver successful results.

Of course, when you carry persistence, position the foundation with a strong brand, it pays off.

That isn’t enough, we go beyond.

Taking on challenging tasks are our best quality and most rewarding journeys we take pride in.

As a valued partner, what can we do to help you build a strong brand?

1- Differentiate yourself from the rest.

2- Develop a clear brand and message

3- Create collaborations that help you gain resources and visibility

4- Focus on strategic partnerships that share common values or interests

5- Research, assess, and evaluate who you are, what you stand for, what you want and how you wish to achieve your goals.

6- Keep you with recent trends and updates that are pertinent to your mission.

7- Tell your story. Once you’ve identified your targets, will stay in front of them.

8- The benefit of having an expert to help you through the process.

It doesn’t matter how small or large your organization is right now. The largest olive trees were once little seeds. Be the seed that can grow with the energy of people that care.

Partners must help you water your seed and maintain it, so you can harvest the fruits of your labor. Like a breath of air, we consider ourselves the change that can breathe new energies into your environment and make you powerful to stand against the winds.

Are you the next corporation with commitment to implement a strong and powerful citizenship program? Are you the next non-profit ready to climb the brand latter? If so we look forward to our business partnership!