People Helping People: Don’t just look around, step up and be one of them.


Despite all evidence to the contrary one cannot be blamed for feeling as though the world is falling apart.

If you entire planetary viewscape is seen from behind a computer screen scrolling the internet visiting social media sites you might believe that people are, by and large, mean to one another.

The same might be derived by watching cable news networks, listening to talk radio, reading the newspaper or viewing the local television newscast.

From those perspectives it sure seems that a lot of people hate a lot of people.

Which is why I am always grateful for the moments I get to spend outside of this small bubble into the world that exists around me.

Such is the case of the past couple of months when I have had the honor and privilege to participate in any number of work and volunteer related events in which I have learned what I have always believed.

A lot of people help a lot of people.

There are the volunteers who support the Visitation High School Robettes program  and more broadly the FIRST Robotics

My wife and I had the privilege to travel with the Robettes to Duluth earlier this summer to support them during one of their competitions.  Surrounded by hundreds of dedicated young men and women and their robots one can feel the energy and enthusiasm in the room.

But, behind and in front of the scenes are the hundreds of volunteer parents, mentors and others who support these programs and provide access to them for young men and women learning new skills of science and technology – but also of leadership and teamwork and collaboration.

In April a small group of young men and women hosted a Shark Tank inspired fundraising event call “Charity Wars” in which Spare Key and two other charities “competed” to engage participants into supporting our individual charities.

While Spare Key “won” the contest each of the three charities were able to share our vision, purpose, mission and passion with hundreds who attended the event.

In July our good friends from the and their Team from The Loop and dozens of vendors, volunteers and golfers came together to support Spare Key at a fundraising golf event.  The third year we have been honored to be a part of this event it is always a reminder of the goodness and generosity of those who want to help support people in need.

Our friends from the Minnesota Mortgage Association, did the same in July – hosting their annual golf tourney in support of Spare Key and just last week their President, Steve Furlong of hosted a get-together with MMA members to learn more about Spare Key.

Two weeks ago, my small and passionate and amazing Spare Key Team and I were in St. Louis for the PGA Championship.

There, along with nearly 850 volunteers from the St. Louis Community, we served tens of thousands of attendees’ food and drink for almost a week.

850 volunteers who had barely heard of Spare Key before but came together to support us and commit their day and their time to help others on hot and humid days.

Our partner Prom Levy Golf has given this opportunity in the past with other events and we try hard to live up to our commitment and promises.  We have been rewarded with amazing volunteers who help us raise valuable resources for our program.

And, this past weekend I had the privilege to volunteer, along with my wife, for Serving our Troops serve lunch to members of the military and their family at the in St. Paul.

As I watched those who serve America be served by dozens of others who represent the best of America I could not helped be moved by the genuine goodness of people.

That I had the privilege to play a very small part in Serving Our Troops beginning as Chief of Staff to Senator Norm Coleman many years ago was another reminder of the remarkable honor I have had in public service throughout my life.

It is even more a testament to the leadership of Norm throughout the years that he stepped up to create the platform for Serving Our Troops to get started, and to Pat Harris for the vision, the passion and the commitment to keep it going and expanding so that today the organization has served over 90,000 steak dinners to American military members throughout the world.

Also, this weekend I spent my Sunday with my Spare Key Team and our Board Chair and CEO of TitleSmart Cindy Koebele and her Team at our annual 5K at Lake Phalen.

This year we had the privilege to have over 30 members of the NSCC Twin Cities Squadron Sea Cadets  and their volunteer parents and Officers join us as volunteers and hundreds of runners and walkers for our Bounce and not Break 5K.

As Sea Cadets swarmed and helped set-up, and other volunteers supported us throughout the day, the Spare Key Team was able to execute an event that could only be done by an organization with a much larger staff.

Together, all of us got to see the bravery and courage of Jackson Larson as he ran/walked/rolled the 5K with his wheelchair and wearable robotic exoskeleton.

I share these moments with you because among the thousands of people helping people the past several months there wasn’t a single instance of me looking around the faces of those serving – and those being served – that I felt the world was coming apart at its seams.

On the contrary:  What I saw was the world coming together in real, actionable ways.

There was no theory.  Nobody had to be told how to help or who to help.

No festivals where people gather to dance around and talk about how they really are passionate about wanting to do something to help people.  Or, people wringing their hands wondering aloud how they may, someday, be able to put their passion to help people into action.

To paraphrase a line from my friend Norm Coleman: There were no leaders without followers out taking a walk.

Nope.  There were just people doing it.  Helping people.  Making a real difference in real people’s lives.

The world I live in, I work in and I am honored to be a part of, is not a bad world filled with bad people.

It is a very good world filled with human beings who want to help other human beings with everything that every human being needs:  Someone to care about them.

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