There are a lot of reasons I love blogging. And there are many ways that blogging has changed my life. But there are two reasons blogging has, in a way, saved my life.
I struggled this last year. I touched on it briefly in another post, but I had a very hard time especially this past winter. My side of the family had some huge challenges on top of my usual struggle with the winter time and some financial issues made for a bad combination. If it were not for my sweet 4 year old at home, and my sweet blog readers, I probably would not have got out of bed most days. I gained weight, had no motivation to do anything, and had a hard time looking past my own situation. When Tauni asked if I would help with SNAP this year by being in charge of the charity event it was like a lifeline being thrown my way.
The SNAP conference team members
(All photos that don't look like grainy iphone pics are the work of the fabulous Alex Adams who was the official photographer of the conference)
This is what 550 bloggers look like!
I have always, always been a big believer in service. One of magical things that happen when you serve, is you look outside yourself and your situation. You feel better, you love more, and you are blessed.
I started by picking a charity to work with. I have always loved Habitat for Humanity. I called the Salt Lake City office since that is where the conference was going to be held. I told them that we would love to help a family that was about to move in their home by donating some furniture. I was able to hear the stories of a few families and pick one that I felt could use this help.
I chose a single mother and her 8 year old daughter. The mom came to the US from Ecuador to attend Brigham Young University. She met and married a man and had a little baby girl. Somewhere along the way she became divorced and had no help. She ended up in a homeless shelter housing unit. She had one small bedroom to share with her daughter. They shared an old mattress that was on the floor. Aside from their clothes, that is all they had.
The mom was working two jobs (sometimes three) to try and save money. She applied for Habitat and waited three years before she was picked to get a house. She worked hard and fulfilled all the hours required to help build her home. The lady at Habitat said she was the hardest working person to ever go through their program and that every one loved her. Aside from working two jobs and working on her home, she is also finishing college to become a social worker.
The daughter's favorite color is turquoise. She loves flowers, math, wants to go to college like her mom. All she really wanted was a bed. She has never had her own bedroom or her own bed.
I love working with brands that not only give back, but that thrive on changing people's lives for the better. You all know my blood runs orange. Home Depot is my favorite company not just for what they sell within their store, but for their mission of service. I could go on and on all day about The Home Depot Foundation and the MILLIONS of dollars they donate and the MILLIONS of hours of service they give each year. But for now, just know they are awesome :)
One of the aspects of this charity event was a competition of sorts. We wanted to get the attendees involved. Home Depot donated some unfinished furniture (I'll be honest, I didn't even know Homedepot.com sold unfinished furniture!) and then the teams got to work making them beautiful.
I want to thank all those who applied to be on a team. We were overwhelmed with how many people wanted to be apart of this. I am glad I was not the one who picked the teams! And I also want to thank Amy from The Idea Room, for being my partner for the charity event. She is seriously one of my FAVORITE people on the planet. She was the perfect person to help with this event.
There were 5 teams of 5 who worked for 2 hours to complete their furniture pieces.
The mom loved black, white, and brown while the little girl loved turquoise. We tried to keep the color pallet the same for the sake of the family while allowing each team creative freedom to do what they wanted for their pieces.
Then, for a way for the other attendee to be apart of it, we had them vote for their favorite piece via instagram. The winning team got gift baskets from Home Depot :)
Another company that I have worked with in the past for charity type projects is IKEA. Our local Draper, Utah store is amazing. If you need something for a good cause, they jump at the chance to help. Tauni and I were able to go shopping and pick out items for the family. Some of those items we had delivered to the hotel so we would be able to display them.
Amy and I, along with some volunteers, put together a couch, dresser, and a twin bed with drawers that also pulls out into a king sized bed. It took us all day on Saturday. Amy and I never would have been able to do it on our own. A huge shout out goes to Rayan from The Design Confidential, Aly from Entirely Eventful, Heidi from Honey Bear Lane, and Amanda Formaro for helping us. They could have been attending classes and chose to put together furniture.
Here is the couch from IKEA paired with the winning Home Depot coffee table.
And here is the little girl's new bed (her first!) with her favorite color bedding.
And here is all the furniture that was displayed. It was all picked up by Habitat for Humanity that evening and taken to their storage unit until the family was ready to move in their new home!
No sleep, paired with long hours and an emotional reaction to the generosity of others made me a bit of a mess. I knew I was going to have to get up on stage in front of 550+ women and share the story of this family. I had practiced it and had never been successful in getting through it without doing the ugly cry. I went to the bathroom right before and decided to just let it all out. I sobbed in a bathroom stall. So yeah, in this picture I look a little puffy and washed out. But I was able to deliver the message with a shaky voice instead of snotty sobs.
A blog conference is a totally different experience as a team member verses an attendee. I only went to one and a half classes the whole time. I was running around doing behind the scenes stuff most of the time. But no matter what you do at a conference, no matter what classes you attend, I believe you can learn something from everything. What I got out of the conference was different than past conferences. I got myself back.
I wasn't working the whole time. I was able to listen the keynote speakers and play a bit too.
We had some fabulous speakers but my favorite two were Alex Boye (who also performed a concert for us) and Noelle Pikus Pace. I had the privilege to sit next to Noelle during dinner before she spoke. She really is amazing.
I may or may not have gone on stage and sang backup......
Like always, the sponsors were amazing. Charmed Collections surprised me with a necklace with my name, tagline, and logo! And I got all decked out for the 80's dance party. Since I couldn't find a cone bra in time, I went for the Cyndi Lauper look.
I am thankful for the opportunity to help with SNAP. I am grateful for blogging and for the support I feel from you. I mentioned in the beginning of this post, two reasons that blogging has help save me. One is the amazing service opportunities I have had, and the other is YOU. The relationships I have formed with bloggers, brands, and my readers are what has pulled me through tough times. I finally feel like I am getting back to normal :)
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