By Alex Cohen
Before I begin my April blog post I cannot forget to mention something amazing that happened to me last month. Inside Philanthropy released a list of the “50 Most Powerful Women in U.S. Philanthropy” and I was one of them. Not only was I shocked to see my name on the list, but I was humbled and honored beyond words to be included along with such inspirational women. Many of these women have been my inspiration to give more, and to see my name printed next to theirs just blew me away. I want to thank Inside Philanthropy for acknowledging my efforts through the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, and for inspiring me further to continue my work.
When I think of spring I think of April showers …Winter slowly coming to an end….Cherry blossoms blooming….Pollen making me sneeze….Long walks with my puppies and Opening day for baseball season.
Around this time last year, I was walking in midtown Manhattan when I came across a big bus with the words “Mitzvah Tank” painted on the side. I assumed that the word Mitzvah meant “good deed” and a bulb went off in my head.
Even after I found out that the word Mitzvah does not translate exactly to “good deed,” (it actually means “commandment”) it was too late – the seed had already been planted in my head and in my heart. In fact, after learning the correct definition of the word, my idea began to take shape even further. What If we could get a truck or trailer and go around doing good deeds? This combined with one of my bucket list items; I decided to pitch the idea of going across this great country of ours in a bus performing good deeds.
When I first brought up the idea to my team, our leader looked at me as though I had three heads and asked if I was kidding; I was not. Soon the idea caught on and our resident outdoors-man took off with the idea and created an amazing adventure.
So, on April 25th, we set off on what will either be the best trip or the craziest idea I have ever had. I just hope we all still like each other after living on a tour bus together for a week!
From the research we have done, the middle of our country does not get the attention it deserves. You see this more now during election season – the states are full of the forgotten many. Like many of the generous and fortunate people we know, the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation tends to focus our giving in our general vicinity. As a result, much of the money is spent on both coasts but nowhere in the middle. I hope this trip serves as an education for all of us. Middle America IS America and we need to take care of our own no matter where in the country they reside.
It is only fitting that we will embark on our journey in April, the first full month of Spring.
The word Spring in the dictionary means many things:
- The season between winter and summer;
- To move or jump suddenly or rapidly upward or forward;
- Originate or arise from;
- Warmer temperatures and new growth;
- Relief from the dark…
I say, let’s spring ahead. Let’s move upward and forward and do something different. Let’s create new growth in areas that need attention and let’s help find relief from the darkness for those who need it most.
We have chosen a few places in every state we visit to volunteer, donate, surprise, learn, teach, and serve – whatever it takes. We want to sit and speak to locals and find out what the needs are in their area, how we can help and how we can inspire them to help others.
We are calling this trip “The Giving Tour.” Much like the main character in the famous Shel Silverstein book “The Giving Tree,” we want to give what we can of ourselves to make others happy.
That is my goal on this trip. That is my goal in my lifetime.
We will be posting daily and sharing this amazing journey with all of you so please follow us and share your own stories with us along the way. This spring be grateful, be generous, be caring, be nice – GIVE.