Join us for another episode of SheBoss, as we chat with a 3-time Emmy award-winning journalist and CEO & founder of Kids to Love, Lee Marshall. Lee is answering her God-given call to be a voice for children who wait! Born into foster care, and adopted at the age of 2, Lee knows first hand the difference a forever family can make. Through her Kids to Love Foundation, she is carrying out her purpose to find families for foster children and meeting their immediate needs while they wait to be adopted. Since Lee founded Kids to Love in 2004, the foundation has impacted the lives of more than 265,000 foster children. Lee is a 3-time Emmy award-winning journalist. After 20 years in TV News, she signed off from the anchor desk in 2015 to launch her dream of the Kids to Love Center. Just like Lee, Kids to Love also got its start in television. Lee presents a weekly segment that aims to recruit “Forever Families.” Each week, Lee introduces a new child waiting in foster care to prospective families across the Tennessee Valley and to her more than 95,000 followers on social media. She has helped find permanent homes for more than 200 children through her weekly segment. Lee’s vision and heart, especially for teen-age foster children who will age out of care, compelled her to dream big, and in March 2015 she launched the Kids to Love Center. The center is home to KTECH, a workforce training site for young adults, focusing on those in foster care, vets needing a skill set to reenter the workforce, and others who are underserved through traditional constraints of education. Launched in 2016, KTECH has awarded more than 100 certifications. In 16 weeks KTECH students earn 4 industry-recognized certifications to meet the increasing demands of our manufacturing rich community.
She Boss with Lee Marshall
Megan: Hey guys, welcome to another episode of She Boss, I am your host Megan with Flourish. And before we get started and talk to our fabulous guest today, just to give you a little bit of information about She Boss, this is a video series that we have launched recently. And we wanted to provide a platform and an opportunity to be able to talk with some of the most phenomenal women that we are not only surrounded by and get a chance to just learn from every day, but that are making absolutely huge impact within our community. So we hope that you get a chance to check out a couple of our videos, this is going to grow. And we’re always interested in learning about just amazing women. So if you’re interested in chatting with us, please let us know. I am so excited to talk to our guest today. She holds three Emmys, no big deal. She’s done some amazing things in her career. And I’m so excited to dive into all that she is doing right now. But she worked in TV for many years, and now has an organization called Kids to Love, which is literally transforming foster care in the southeast. And is just doing amazing things to help children and families. So can’t wait to talk to her. But Lee Marshall is joining us today. Lee, thank you so much for spending some time with us this morning.
Lee: I’m excited to be here.
Megan: Yes, yes. So as you as I mentioned, I’m just going to go ahead and kick it off, have you just give us a little bit of background on yourself and kind your journey and how you got to where you are today. And then I’ll just jump in and ask you some questions.
Lee: I think the biggest thing that people always wonder, especially with Kids to Love is, what’s my why? And I think that we as women always have to identify our why as we look at making an impact. And my why is that I was born into foster care. And by the grace of God, I got adopted at the age of two by a loving family, always knew that I was adopted. It was something that was embraced and celebrated in my home. But it was also something that became almost sort of a badge of honor for me. I remember at a very young age, I had a kid on the playground make fun of me because I was adopted. And I just looked at him just really matter of fact. And I said, “Well, at least my parents got to choose me, yours had to settle”. So that’s kind of how, you know, and kids always pick on something that they view as a weakness. And for me, it was very important to rewrite that script at a young age to look at that as not being a weakness, but certainly being the blessing that it was. And so I always knew that I wanted to do more.
You know, in college, I competed in the Miss Tennessee system. And that was my platform. That was part of the Miss America system where community service was really big. And that really was almost the birth of what Kids to Love is grown into today. When I got to television in Huntsville, it was my third stop on my television journey. And I approached the news director at the time and asked if I could profile children that needed homes and put them on television. And he said, “Lee, people don’t care about that”. And I said, “Well, I’ll take that as a challenge to make people care about that”. And so there was an exchange back and forth. And I said, “You know what, if you can put animals on television, and people care about them, then give me the chance to put kids on TV. And let me take the responsibility of making people care about them”. And so we launched our Kids to Love segment when I was doing weekends on 48 years ago, and that really was well received and embraced in our community. We live in a community that people just they want to care for kids, they love vets, they love seniors, and they love animals, anything that’s going to make our community better. Our citizens want to be a part of that. And so it was very well embraced and of the more than 300 kids that we were able to show over the years of my opportunity to work in television, about 325 of the 350 were adopted. And so we know that it makes a difference. And we still do that today. Thanks to technology and social media. We haven’t stopped that that is really the core of how we serve. But Jeff and I moved to Huntsville, gosh, I guess it’s been 22 years ago for me to take the weekend job at 48. And we fell in love with it here. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to move to other places. But this was where we wanted to put down roots and raise our family and we just love the North Alabama area.
Megan: Huntsville is amazing. And it is so supportive, like you mentioned of different types of projects and anything that helps to sort of propel the community forward. I think everybody’s about which is just awesome. It’s awesome. So, you brought the idea of showcasing this problem, I guess, these kids who needed to find foster homes and this sort of I don’t want to say trend, it was at passion project but between you and the partnership and the platform that you were given to be able to kind of highlight what was going on. It transformed what was happening. Was it just in North Alabama? Or was it across the southeast region? Where was sort of the reach with the effort that you were getting out there?
Lee: Initially with the children that we profiled, we developed a great partnership with the Department of Resources out of Montgomery. And so we were very protective of the children that we profiled, so children that we profiled didn’t live in North Alabama, they would live Birmingham south. And that was really so they wouldn’t go to school, and someone make fun of them the next day and say, “Hey, I saw you on television last night”. So that really started out as a statewide partnership. As I had a chance to meet these kids and see their needs, I saw that their basic needs weren’t being met. So as an anchor, I had access to other nonprofits. And so what I started doing was trying to connect the dots and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve got these group of kids over here, and they’re needing school supplies, or they’re needing scholarships, or back to school clothes”, and every nonprofit that I would approach, they’re like, “Lee, I really wish we could help. But you know. That’s not our mission statement. That’s not who we are committed to serving, which is what they should have done”.
So after a long time, of not being able to be effective in change, I reluctantly started a nonprofit organization. And I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. I was a journalist. That’s what I did. I love to tell people’s stories; I love to bring about change. But I really felt like that it was important for me to spearhead that change, because there wasn’t anyone doing this, that I could work with, anywhere across the southeast that I could find, and I research because I didn’t really want to at first go out on my own and do this. And so I was hoping that I could find someone to partner with, but no one was meeting the needs of foster children. And I really felt like that was where God put me to be and where he directed me to serve. And so in 2004, we incorporated the Kids to Love Foundation. And since that time, we’ve had a direct impact on the lives of more than 265,000 children living in foster care. I should have said yes, a lot easier and a lot earlier, I’m going to be honest.
Megan: That is just insane. And I think there’s so many I’ve read about, I’ve read about some families who have experienced going through the process of becoming a foster family. And it is not easy. I mean, it’s not easy at all. And so, I love the fact that you were so passionate about something, but nobody else was doing what needed to be done. And, yet you saw this need and this desire to want to help because of the experience that you went through. And there’s a lot of statistics that you can read on kids who go into foster care. And if they’re not placed with good families and they don’t have a good experience, or they don’t find those forever families, if you will, that can kind of help them and guide them throughout life. And this is not something that just impacts that child or that family, this is an impact to everybody down the road. So I mean, what would you say is some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about foster care or maybe even being a foster family?
Lee: You know, I think they think that our kids are different. Our kids are like, every other kid, they just by no fault of their own, have ended up in a situation where their parents have made wrong decisions or maybe their parents have been killed unexpectedly. We see a lot of poverty. We see a lot of drug abuse. Those are definitely issues that our kids deal with. But then also think you have to factor in, parents that are killed unexpectedly in car accidents, and then they are their children. I mean, that’s something as a parent that none of us would want to happen. But a lot of times, that’s the situation. But our kids are just regular kids. And sometimes our kids are better than your kids. They’re better behaved. I mean, I’ve got one young lady that lives at Davidson Farms, and I tell people all the time and I tell it to her face, I said, “If I could clone you, you are an amazing young woman”. I mean, but they’re just regular kids that just need a chance and it is hard to be a foster family. It’s hard to say yes to disrupt that. We have had kids personally live with us and it’s always a little bit of a disruption, but not in a negative way. What I’ve learned with my kids being involved in this is it teaches them to be more compassionate. It makes them appreciate things more. They all they now they look at for other people, instead of being self-centered, and as a mom, that’s a win when you can teach your kids to have a compassionate soul, and to be bigger than this, just them or their world. That’s a win.
So, it is challenging, and the foster care system is daunting, but it’s worth it. And we offer free foster parenting classes, every fall and every spring. And if there’s someone that has questions about it, we have gotten members on our team. Beverley, on my team, I joke that she knows policy better than most people that work for the HR. And so our goal is to really help people navigate that and understand that system and help them to arm them with information so that they can make the best decision for themselves. Because it’s not for everybody, it takes a special calling to be a foster family. But if you don’t feel called, and that’s where I feel like that our organization comes in, and we support that foster family and that foster child, while we help them find that forever family.
Megan: Right well, you hear things about, at least, I’ll speak on my behalf. But you have that one professor, or that one teacher, or that one counselor who sort of invested that additional time and has such an imprint on your life. On the pathway that you take, and to think that, family can open their doors and have such an impact on these kids, when they’re at such an impressionable time in their life. And they are developing, mentally, physically everything and just to be able to literally transform the path that they take. I mean, it’s just mind blowing. And I love the fact that I was going to ask you about that, because I know you have two daughters that write to girls.
Lee: Two daughters, yes, yes
Megan: So and I have a 15 year old daughter. And so it’s amazing to see kids develop and what sort of helps to mold the way that they look at the world, and right now, things can be very dangerous with social media, where you sort of get caught up in the, it’s all about me type of thing, as opposed to thinking much bigger picture. And I don’t know about you, but this whole quarantine experience has been such an amazing one, in the sense of being able to connect with your family in a very, very different way. I think at first, we were all going a little bit crazy. But now I’m like, “I love it so much, because we get all this one on one time with our kids”. But to think about the impact that opening up your family can do to kids, and just what that is long term is just insane.
So I want to talk a little bit about a lot of the different programs that Kids to Love has, because for those that aren’t familiar with the organization, there are so many different enrichment programs that you guys offer from schooling and training and credentials, and I mean, so many different things. But before we get there, I want to talk a little bit about your journey. You spent a lot of time in TV. You established this organization in 2004. I think it wasn’t until 2015 that you decided to sort of like, leave TV, leave full time and to make this thing 100%. What was it that that really drove you to do that? And we talked a little bit about this before we jumped on, but there’s a lot of women who, and a lot of people for that matter who have a passion project or something that they really want to do. But taking that leap taking that jump makes you want to vomit, frankly, and you feel like you don’t have the toolset or whatever it might be to think that you can do it. Tell us a little bit about your journey and what drove you to do that? And what are some pieces of advice that you have for those that may be in a similar boat?
Lee: It’s definitely a step in faith. That’s the biggest thing. When I went to Nineteen in 2011. Part of my was, how do I say this, part of my ‘must have’ was that they would take on Kids to Love and support it through our school supply drive, support it through our Christmas drive, or myth, tip line, all of our community outreach programs, if I’m coming, then that’s coming. And so at that point, Kids to Love was, I guess, kind of still viewed as almost my little pet project. A lot of people thought it was cute that I was helping foster kids, they say, “Oh, that’s just so admirable”. But what they didn’t understand was the lives that we were starting to see impacted on a daily basis. And so in 2013, I had an opportunity, I guess, an idea that God gave me that could support these foster youth that were aging out of foster care ending up in prison between 75 and 80% of members of the juvenile justice system or prison system, foster children. And I’ve found that statistic in 2003. And it had haunted me for years. I prayed, how am I supposed to what am I supposed to do with this because it would be requiring me to get out of my comfort zone. And I worked long hours I, mom, work in a news run an organization, I even decided to be a good idea to homeschool my girls a couple years because I was just a glutton for pain.
Megan: Why not? Why not?
Lee: And so yeah, I know, right? I just had that on my plate. But, in 2013, you know, I had prayed for many years of God, how am I supposed to do this? What does that look like? And so I figured that it needed to be a program, a credential program. And so what I did was I looked for anybody in the country doing this. That is one of my biggest pieces of advice to people, if you have an idea, and you want to do something, if you don’t have to start it from scratch, if you can align your passion with someone that’s already in that lane, do that, because it will strengthen the mission and the message in a big way. I couldn’t find anyone doing anything to target these aging out foster youth demographic.
So in 2013, I found a program in Tennessee Bridgestone and Motlow Community College called mechatronics. Again, I’m a journalist; I don’t understand I have to research how to properly pronounce mechatronics. And so I go and we take a site visit. And I take with me, at the time State Senator Bill Holtzclaw. He was a former foster child, Representative Mike Ball, who was a former foster child, Madison County, the HR director, Phillips, it’s been a longtime friend, Max Bennett on our board. And we take a delegation up to Murfreesboro to see what they’re doing and to see, okay, just because it works in your community, will it work in ours. And we found a lot of positive things. We also saw some glaring obstacles that we would have to overcome. But then I kind of felt like I had a better read of it, then all I had to do was come back and get a facility and a half a million dollars’ worth of equipment and instructors to launch this. I mean, that’s really all I had. So I just started praying God, if this is the path we’re supposed to take, I need you to give me complete peace about it. And then I need you to start bringing people in my path. And so that was 2013, by 2014, we approached Louis and Patti Breeland. And our initial intention of the meeting was to share with them the vision. We were given temporary space. And I thought, well, if they could help us with the equipment, then we could launch the program. And Louis said, “So half of your stuff is stored here”, because we were still doing Christmas in school supplies. And I said, “Yes. And half is in a generous warehouse donated in North Huntsville”. We were very much like gypsies, we had everything stored anywhere, people would let me store something for free. And he said, “You know, you need everything under one roof. And I said, “You’re exactly right. And he said, “I have this warehouse that I’ve not been able to lease”. I said, “That is unfortunate”. And he said, “You know, I’ll show it to you at some point”. And I said, “I have about 45 minutes”. And so I mean, we literally drove to this warehouse. And it was his wife, Patti. She was adopted; she had a heart for how we served. And so one of the biggest things for me, is finding people that have the understanding and the connection to children and adoption in foster care. Because when they understand it, then that removes all the need for me to convince them because they understand.
Megan: And they’ve become ambassadors too.
Lee: Yes, yes. Well, I’ve had in fact, Patti one of our board members. So absolutely, they definitely become part of the part of the army in this mission. And so, Louis committed the building in November of 2014. We closed on it in February of 2015. And I knew at that point that was truly the crossroads of me, either I could stay and run this as my cute little project, and continue to have a career that I loved and television. But I felt like you know, I was at that 20 year mark and I had achieved these personal goals from a broadcasting career that I wanted to achieve. So I was ready for the next challenge. And so in March of 2015 and after a lot of prayer and talking it over with you know, Jeff and the girls, we decided that it was time to pull the plug and pull the trigger. And so I stepped out of my comfort zone of television and full time into Kids to Love and we have just been able to explode, our first K tech class launched in January of 2016. And the first three years we have awarded over 100 certifications. And we’ve opened it up. It’s the only program that we open up to serve not only children in foster care, but anyone in our community that needs that skill set or resource. We’ve also found strengthen partnerships we work with other organizations like the Downtown Rescue Mission, we let them do what they do well, which is, you know, a track of sobriety and clean living. And then their residents need a skill set to reenter the workforce, and then that’s where we come in. So we’re not a competition, we’re a complement, to let them do what they do. Well, we do what we do well, and it’s a win for everyone. We’ve also found success through utilizing partnerships with Christian Women’s Job Corps, a lot of other nonprofits in the community that finally have seen us as not a threat. But we certainly are a friend in this of trying to reclaim and change our community. We have just seen such an amazing impact. And you know, it’s not been easy. For the very beginning, I had people tell me “Lee, this will never work, you will never make this happen”. And I just knew that that’s what I was supposed to be doing. And so every time I was told no, instead of getting distracted, it just fueled my passion to prove them wrong. And that’s kind of my motivator. I mean, if you tell me no, then that means that you’re not supposed to be a part of this, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop us from doing it.
Megan: Yeah, I love that so much that the ‘no’ sort of told you to keep on going. I mean, to go back to it, something like K Tech, I mean, you’re offering these courses on advanced manufacturing, and all of these different things that that the community in our economy needs. And so you’re finding, not I mean, remove, remove, you know, foster care in itself, but you’re looking at a resource and helping empower people to be able to just be stronger individuals, as they sort of age out and move on to that next path. And I love to how you talk about finding the strategic partnerships of people that you can partner with. And it’s not about a competition. And it’s not about what you want over here and what you want over there, but it’s figuring out ways where you can really team up with other organizations within the community to just further a greater impression. And I think when you do that, I mean, you can, as you said, kind of completely strengthen what it is that you’re trying to do. At the end of the day, everybody wins. You know, it’s not about me versus them or anything like that, which I think is amazing.
Lee: One of our young ladies that went through K tech, she had impacted teeth. And it was the pain was so great. It was keeping her from being successful in class. I have friends who are dentists that I can easily call and ask a favor. But that was really, at the beginning of 2016. What started us having that conversation, I said, “You know, I need to know who’s doing what well in our community”. So we partnered with the free dental clinic in town, and they were able to get the teeth extracted, and it changed her life. And so that’s really what launched for us the original community conversations on poverty. Our organization started that in 2016 to start those conversations so we could understand and Fran with Manna House, she has fed our kids, and it’s one of these things that, Keith Overholt will text me and say, “Hey, I’m praying for you and your team”. I mean, what I have developed now is a circle of friends that I trust that trust me, that if I need something, we can get it done. We had a young lady whose daughter we took custody of at Davidson Farms, and the mom was homeless. And I reached out to Keith at the Rescue Mission and I said, “Hey, do you have a space for her at Owens house”. And there was no hesitation he said, “Just bring her”. So what I have found is it’s helped us to really- our mission at Kids to Love is to build a community for our kids. And we can’t do that alone. There’s got to be partnerships. There’s got to be not only from other nonprofits, but from businesses and individuals in the community that stepped up and see the value of putting seeds into our mission. And so yeah, those are just a couple of the examples of it makes such a difference. When I have kids that are going through K tech that are hungry, and Manna House will drop off food or the Downtown Rescue Mission will drop off food and now we have a new partnership with a Rose of Sharon and they’re helping us feed foster families every week. I don’t have access to food but they do so why not partner together and we can be a distribution arm so they can feed more families. For us it has been that we learn what our lane is and we execute our lane well and our lane is wide. We have a lot of paths in our lane, but we also know our limits and know who’s doing what well in the community. I’m not going to get into their lane, because they figure that out and they execute that Well.
Megan: Yeah, I think that’s such an important principle to across the board, whether you are in business or you’re not, or you’re entertaining it or you have a service offering or product, whatever it might be, but looking at the landscape and identifying what you’re really good at, and honing in on that and being okay, and vulnerable enough to ask other people to either partner or resources or for questions. You can’t go into this with the assumption that you have to know it all. And you have to be able to do it all. Because you won’t, right, you’ll crumble pretty quickly.
Lee: Yeah, I think that goes back to the journalist in me of, if I don’t know something, I will be the first to tell you, I don’t know. But if you give me an hour, I’m going to research and I’m going to at list five questions that I need to start asking. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s just the sense of humbleness that we all need to be very humble and have a humble spirit and an approachable spirit. And that’s what I think has been a big part of our success as an organization serving our kids is because we’re very transparent of I’m going to tell you, I don’t know what I don’t know. But by golly, I’ll find it out. And if I don’t know someone, I’ll find someone that can find that out for me.
Megan: Right, so with Kids to Love, there’s a lot of different programs that you have going on. I know most recently, there’s been a lot of buzz in here in North Alabama about the recent donation, if you will of a beautiful ranch that was given by one of the cofounders and CEO of a very successful well known defense contractor here called Intuitive Research. So tell us a little bit about Tranquility. And then I’d love to hear about sort of what’s next with Kids to Love how people can support you. What gets you excited about what’s coming down the pipeline and all that good stuff?
Lee: So, Ray and Cynthia Almodovar have been great supporters of our mission. When we first launched Davidson farms, Cynthia reached out and she wanted to do a room in the memory of her sister that she lost several years ago. And her name was Joy. And so we have named the rooms, the girls’ rooms that Davidson farms, the fruits of the Spirit. And so she got to pick the Joy room, and it memorializes her late sister. So Ray and Cynthia had this beautiful home in Tennessee, and he bought it for her and she went in and put her touch on it. And it is just gorgeous. And so last year, she reached out and wanted to know about a gift lease. And so for us to serve kids in foster care there’s a lot of liability that we have to make sure it’s covered. And from a business standpoint, I was just kind of concerned of a gift lease for both their protection and ours. And so you know, we said, “Well, why don’t you just give it to us?” And she just kind of looked at me like, are you crazy? And I said, “Well just think about it, you know, you can take it as a tax write off”. And so right, she said, “We’ll need to talk to Ray about that” because Ray’s the business would so you know, we sat down and talked to Ray last year. And he said, “I really can just write it off”. And I said, “Yeah”. And we kind of went through the steps of that. And so he said, “Well, you know, let us think about it. Let us pray about it. And so they came back at the end of the summer and said that they had decided to gift us the proper way that they had named it Cerro Tranquilo which means Tranquil Mountain. And so December we closed on the property in January we cut the ribbon. And so we wanted to rebrand it but still honor the gift and so that is where the name Tranquility came from. We felt it was a little more focused and concise. And we cut the ribbon in January; we started bringing our kids in in February.
A program we have called Camp Hope where our siblings aren’t placed together in foster care, but we bring them together for weekend retreats to still navigate that sibling bond. And so we had a sibling group of eight in February. We had plenty of room with 48 acres there for them to roam. Oh, and then Coronavirus hit in March. So we as an organization took the last six weeks and we have flipped that property to become a wedding venue and we’re actually giving away a wedding to a couple whose special day was affected by Coronavirus. And so we will have that contest open until May 22. So tranquilityweddings.com is where you go because with us we wanted to launch it as a wedding venue. If we can book several weddings a year that’s going to take care of the overhead to run that magnificent property and the overhead is great. But at the same time it’s going to allow us to continue to serve our kids there we felt it was very important as an organization in the middle of COVID-19 to not drop any services at all to our kids. And so this is just a way that we can do that and at least keep that one property up and going. So yeah, so we’re going to do a wedding and give that away.
Another project that’s on the horizon that I’m excited about is our Cottage Community at Davidson Farms. And when girls live at Davidson Farms, we don’t take any state or federal funding, but we have to be licensed by the EHR to serve young ladies in foster care. So their rules are the girls can stay there 10 to 19. When they turn 20, they have to leave. And so we’ve had that happen. And we’ve got one young lady in apartment already. I’ve re categorized another young lady. And so now she helps with transportation helps our house mom, Stacy. So our goal is to have our tiny house village, our Cottage Community up and running this summer due to Coronavirus. It’s kind of put things on hold so it may be August realistically before we can get this up and running. But this would be a place where our girls ages 20 to 25 can stay and it would be safe, nice housing, for them to finish college to get a skill set to go to work to start that independent living. So we can give them the structure and the foundation they need to be successful. I look back at my parents, they didn’t forget about me at the age of 20. I still needed parents, I still do today. And so this is just that extended arm of what makes us different as an organization to really be holistic, and to wrap our arms around our kids and how we serve.
Megan: Oh my gosh, I love that so much. It gives me chills just thinking about that. And just what a phenomenal resource that is. And again, you think about it, it wasn’t until I had kids that I realized, what our parents go through. And it also made me feel bad about what I put them through as a kid.
Lee: We are so paying for our raising limits.
Megan: You take advantage and you take it for granted that your parents will always catch you, they will always be there always no matter what. I could not imagine, God forbid if something were to ever happen. And my six year old was left without parents, without guardians, whatever it might be. And a lot of these kids are in that position. And so to know that there are resources out there that operate on that mentality. I think it’s just amazing. And it sets them up for just a lifetime of success, which is awesome. It’s awesome. So tell me a little bit about how people support Kids to Love. What can they do to keep you guys running to provide funding that you need to keep the doors open and all these services going? What are some ways that people can support you guys?
Lee: Money is always the biggest one like anything. And it’s one of the things that I hate to ask for the most of but it’s needed the most kidstolove.org is our website and there is a way to give there. It’s important that people know that our overhead is less than 5%. What they give goes to support our kids and the programs that we run to support our kids. Food is a big thing, stocking the pantry at Davidson Farms, and now that we’re feeding even more foster families, food donations, I’m thankful that we had toiletry donations, because we did not have a shortage of toilet paper at Davidson farms when no one else could find any thank goodness. But you know, toiletry donations, cleaning supplies, anything like that, that we can get in that we don’t have to buy keeps our overhead down. A lot of people want to give money, a lot of people want to give things because they want to make sure that what I’m buying is going to the kids and if they want to do that they can find our address at kidstolove.org. And then, volunteers really have been the lifeblood of our organization. And that’s something that we have to look at and rethink this summer. We do over 6000 backpacks every year to children in foster care, the entire state of Alabama, 60 counties in Tennessee, and we even dip into Mississippi and Georgia. We do that with volunteers. So we have to figure out what volunteering looks like in the middle of a pandemic. And so I would just encourage people to watch our Facebook page in the next couple of weeks. We’re following the state guidelines as they open up because we want to be safe. But we also have work to do. Christmas is another big project. And that takes a lot of volunteers, a lot of hands to make that work. We filled more than 1500 full wish lists last year. And if a family asks for help from us, they can’t ask or receive help from any other organization. So it’s really important for us that there’s no double dipping. If we commit to take care of our kids, we’re going to take care of them but we only can do that with our community support.
Megan: That is amazing. And working in nonprofit, I agree with you. The volunteers are the lifeblood that keeps things going, hands down. I mean, so volunteer opportunities now. I’m like they are endless with Kids to Love. So I have one last question before we go. And first I just again want to thank you so much for everything that you do. Being in Huntsville for almost 15 years now you have always been someone who is just such an admirable individual with the things that you do, and you go above and beyond. And you can tell that everything that you do comes from the heart, and is driven by just absolute passion. And I think for anybody that has that type of passion. As long as you sort of follow that way as your light, you will succeed, you absolutely will. But there’s no doubt that it’s going to be hard. It’s hard. No one said it’s easy. So last question, before we go, how the heck were you able to convince people to repel off of a building on behalf of Kids to Love and for those of you that don’t know- yeah, let’s talk a bit.
Lee: And in fact, we are already have signups starting for this year to be September 18 and 19th, Downtown. We ask people to literally scale the region’s building 16 storeys downtown. This was a fundraiser that we watched another markets for several years, we wanted to do something that was not like anything else. We didn’t want to do another stuffy gala. We wanted to do an experience and this is definitely that. So yeah, it’s great. And they’re really those that are all about it. And those that you would have to hog tie and drag them to the side of that building for them to do it. There’s just no way. I went over the last two years, the first year, I’m going to be honest, I didn’t really think about it, because “I’m like, Yeah, this is going to be a great fundraiser yeah sure I’m going to go over” And the day before, I look down from the top of the building, and I’m like, “Sweet mother of Pearl, what have I committed to do? Can I say no?” The first year was extremely terrifying. But it taught me to trust the rope and to trust the process. And so last year, I –enjoy, would be a strong word, it was more tolerable the second year because I knew what to expect. But yeah, it’s become our signature fundraiser. And we joke that it’s the ultimate social distancing activity, because who wants to go down the side of a building. But yeah, September 18, and 19th and we’re already registering teams. And this year, we’re taking a different approach; we’re also going to celebrate essentials. We have been working the entire time during the shutdown, because we have been deemed essential from the Governor in how we serve. And so this year, we’re not only going to continue to serve our kids, but we also want to honor all those essential workers that have put their lives on the line the last several months, the Instacart drivers, the truck drivers, obviously, all the medical personnel, journalists, people who have continued to work in spite of everyone else, being able to be at home safely. And so we’re excited to roll that out in the next couple of weeks. So you got a sneak peek on that.
Megan: I’m excited to hear about that. I’m excited to hear about that for sure. Oh, very cool. Well, we’ll definitely make sure that we follow you on social, that way we can be caught up. But over the edge is something that is hysterical. And last year, people dressed up, as you know, you had the Spider Man’s out there and just different outfits. And it is a fascinating thing to watch, I will safely watch from the distance and not going over. But what a phenomenal and creative way to just innovate and bring light to something that is so important. And do just such fun, creative things. So I love it so much. So, congratulations to you again on all of your success. And you have a phenomenal team support, volunteers and all the kids that get to take advantage of what you guys are doing because it’s absolutely transformational to say the least. So we greatly appreciate you being-
Lee: That’s our prayer.
Megan: Yeah, it’s awesome. So we’re so excited to see what’s to come with Kids to Love. I know there’s only massive continued growth for you guys. So thank you so much again for your time and we greatly appreciate it.
Lee: Thanks for the opportunity to share.
Megan: Absolutely, alright, we’ll talk to you soon. Take care.