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dedicated to the spirit of shinola.
August 18, 2017
August 18, 2017
Shout out to the people doing big things in their communities without any recognition at all. You inspire us and are the epitome of the #RollUpOurSleeves spirit. Recently we launched the #RollUpOurSleeves Contest, asking everyone to share their own unique #RollUpOurSleeves story with the opportunity to win a Shinola watch.
Each month through December 2017, we'll be selecting two winners. Every submission is carefully considered by our team and we're genuinely impressed by the quality of submissions so far. We encourage you to continue sharing your #RollUpOurSleeves stories with us, and in the meantime check out the winners below.
Rich Alapack — Founder of We All Live Here
Rich Alapack (pictured above) with Chicago public school students taking his ACT class.
In June 2015, Rich Alapack was working for Tumblr doing creative and brand strategy. Life was good by every measure, but something was missing. "I felt like I could use my creativity for a bigger purpose," he says. Many of Chicago's neighborhoods frequently make the news for the violence that occurs, but Rich wanted to show people that's not all there is.
This year, Rich quit his job to run We All Live Here full-time. We All Live Here's mission is to use art, community, and technology (ACT) to remind us all to get along and help each other to succeed. Initially, the plan is to work with schools to develop public art projects that use the We All Live Here phrase as a theme. "There are 77 neighborhoods in Chicago and we currently have 55 Chicago schools participating in ACT programs," Rich says. "Our mission is to have one school in each neighborhood participate in our ACT program."
When Rich approached the first school about doing a We All Live Here public art project, he didn't have a child at the school and there wasn't a process for him to start helping the school. He was just a community member who wanted to do something positive, saw an opportunity and decided to do something about it.
"Our community schools are an important part of our neighborhoods. Their reputations affect property values and neighborhood reputations. I believe it's time we all helped schools out by showing an interest and offering to help even if we don't have a child attending the school. Maybe that way schools can once again become the community centers that schools were when I was a kid," Rich says.
We All Live Here has worked with more than 16,000 students, to date. Expansion plans include taking the ACT classes to corporate organizations and throughout the nation. Learn more about how you can get involved, here.
Leila Kubesch — Founder of Parents 2 Partners Organization
Leila Kubesch (pictured above).
Leila Kubesch is the founder of a Cincinnati nonprofit organization, Parents 2 Partners, which educates and empowers vulnerable families including those with limited English, along with aged out and homeless youth from foster care. ”We use the language they understand and go at the pace they can handle. First, we move them from a victim to victor mindset and let them soar," Leila says. "We train parents, youth, and educators because maximum impact does not occur in isolation. Our aspiration is to promote cohesive informed families that support each other for the success of all.”
Growing up in Africa, Leila didn't have a book or toy to play with of her own, and she dreamed of learning English and other languages. “Even without a book to call mine, I loved possibilities," she says. "My grandmother sat me down and taught me to dream big. I believed in her words, kept my faith and achieved my dreams.” Today, Leila works as a mentor and middle school teacher, teaches English as a second language and encourages all children to dream big.
When volunteering as a court-appointed youth advocate, she realized that foster care youth must face a huge fork in the road when moving out of their foster homes at 18 years old. This sparked her to speak at a 2015 Ted Talk, where she passionately brought awareness to how our country has left out a segment of our youth population who are the emancipated foster care youth. "We don't have dreams for them, but imagine their potential if we did," she says.
Together with state officials, Leila helped pass House Bill 50, which allows foster youth to have a home until age 21. And she isn't stopping there.
As a 2017 scholarship recipient of the Kripalu School of Yoga, she volunteers to share the benefits of yoga for trauma with children and adults of all ages. She has also worked to install 500 smoke detectors in impoverished homes in Fairfield Township, with the help of several Ohio-based organizations after finding out that Ohio had reached a record high of house fires and casualties. This project captured the attention of the Ohio State Fire Marshall wants to model the project in other areas across the state.
Donate to Leila's cause or learn more about how to help Parents 2 Partners, here.
Korey Batey — Founder of DAVIS Organization
Korey Batey grew up in Detroit's Dexter-Linwood neighborhood and still calls this place home. This area has remained undeveloped since the 1967 riots, and Korey has lived here his entire life. "See that building on the corner?" referring to an old building on the corner of his block. "That's been abandoned for more than 50 years." As a 28-year-old father of two children, he's taken this neighborhood's future into his own hands with a grass roots, hands-on approach through the launch of his organization, DAVIS (Detroit Ain't Violent It's Safe).
Together with friends, family, and neighbors, he cleans up abandoned lots, alleys and sidewalks. "I work with residents and community leaders to come up with a plan so each block has a chance," he says.
Korey plans fun clean-up events by serving food, building a bonfire and encouraging positive communication amongst the volunteers. The progress he's made so far is applauded by neighbors and has given people a source of hope and positivity. Although he's received city grants and support from other organizations that clean-up neighborhoods like his, he continues to look how he can make an even bigger impact. The long-term vision is to turn the alleyways into bike trails, abandoned garages into small businesses, and build what he calls, "Hobby Town" — a place where everyone in the community can congregate, play, pursue their hobbies and feel safe.
Korey quit his job as a cable engineer to pursue this full-time and is always looking for more volunteers. Find more information about DAVIS and how to get involved, here.
Matthew Ruddy — Teacher at Portland Youth Builders
Matthew Ruddy with one of his students. (pictured right)
As a teacher with 14 years under his belt, Matthew Ruddy is a proponent of hands-on educational experiences full of individual attention. He's spent the past four years teaching for Portland Youth Builders (PYB), a non-profit organization committed to providing long-term support for low-income youth. Each year, the organization provides education, vocational training, and leadership development services for over 200 young people between the ages of 17-24 who have not completed high school and who face significant barriers to success.
"All of our students are facing serious barriers in housing, food, clothing and all the life trauma barriers of poverty," Matthew says. "If these students were in a traditional public school environment, sitting in a giant classroom, chances are they are going to be overlooked."
If someone isn't receptive to learning in a classroom setting, that's where PYB comes in to help students find alternatives like apprenticeship programs. "It's my duty to make sure every student understands that we don't all learn the same way or have the same goals," he says. "Every day I get a chance to roll up my sleeves with students in a genuine way instead of giving them an assignment and walking away. I get daily face time with them and form lifelong relationships with my students and mentor them along the way."
To learn more about the Portland Youth Builders or how you can contribute to their cause, click here.