The Wacky and Amazing Ways ATC’s Community has Supported our Work

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Mary: I remember the first time, when Rob had come up for the idea for “I Think I Can,” and I was very stuck in my rut, and I said, “Oh really? Maybe I could just give a donation instead.” And then I went home and I said to myself, “Come on Mary, you can try this.” And I had a ball with it!

Oh yeah, one was, I was working really hard at the time but I thought, “I can at least go around the block everyday.” And so that was one of them.

I loved it because it was very personal. You could make it as difficult and challenging or as easy as you wanted to. People would say, “I’m going to learn how to cook paella,” or in my case, “I’m going to get healthier by at least walking around the block.” People saw the humor in it and appreciated the purpose of it and would sign on, with notes of congratulation or support of the task. That was a great thing.

He linked it to the purpose of ATC. So just as the clients were taking their steps at their own rate so were we in the fundraising process.

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Avner: Over the years, we've constantly thought of new ideas of how to raise money for the organization and when we thought of the I Think I Can Campaign, my first "I Think I Can" was "I can sing!" And so I thought let's sing for At The Crossroads and see if anybody will come and donate and hear me sing. And Clarellen thought it was a great idea; I hired a pianist to rehearse with, and we had several nights of me singing songs from Fiddler on the Roof—which I performed in high school for two years running—and it was liberating. It was an unbelievable experience for me, which raised some money, for sure, for the campaign—but what a breath of fresh air to experience something for a cause that has to do with your own personal goals and challenges, and that was one of the highlights of the 18 years: singing for At The Crossroads.

Rob: It was amazing. I mean, I loved how you would try to find a new way to challenge yourself to do something meaningful. Like I remember one year you tried to, quote unquote, declutter your house [Laughs], and I remember your uh..successes and challenges in that area [Laughs].

Avner: That year, where I challenged myself to do the most difficult thing I could ever do, I actually failed. I raised money for At The Crossroads, but not as much as I planned to and some of my friends gave up on me 'cause they came to inspect and saw that I was posting phony pictures on the website [Laughing] trying to encourage people to believe that I was doing it. And so that was a reality check that I wasn't really ready to deal with my hoarding and my clutter, but again, it was an opening a portal for myself as a person in raising funds for At The Crossroads.

Rob: One of the things that was always so much fun about the I Think I Can Campaign was just that it mirrored our client philosophy. That it was the idea of helping people figure out what their goals are and then providing a way of giving support, motivation, and incentive to help them achieve those goals. And celebrating their successes, but not judging their failures or their challenges, and instead, really believing that engaging in the goal and the process in of itself is meaningful and it's important. And I think you were an incredible example of that on different fronts.

Avner: Thank you.

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Angelo: Which is another topic that would be fun to talk about. ‘Cause I don't know if you've done it, but I've done the I Think I Can Campaign? Which I don't know when that one started, but I remember the first year I did two I Think I Can Campaigns, and one of the them—the first one I did, I think—was probably the dumbest one I did which was: I agreed to run a marathon.

Angelo and Abby: [Laughter]

Angelo: So I raised money and I spent the entire year like training for the marathon and then I actually raised a great amount of money which was super awesome—that people donated. And then I ran the San Francisco Marathon, which was really cool ‘cause, you know, my wife was there to support me and a bunch of my friends but then like ATC's staff was there at the marathon at the finish line, like, with signs and everything. And my wife made all these t-shirts that are like "Run, Angelo, run!" and they were all wearing it. And I have pictures...so it's like, you know, that's the side—outside of outreach, outside of the work—that is just that people are so supportive of each other out here.

And then the second time I did it, I was much smarter and decided on a much easier task which was just growing my hair out. I grew my hair out and every time somebody would donate I would let my hair grow longer and longer and longer with the end-goal of then cutting it all off and donating my hair, which was, you know, much easier than running marathon. [Laugher]

Abby: Angelo - you're a superstar. Gosh darn. [Laughter] You really are.

Angelo: But yeah, if you ever do an I Think I Can Campaign, don't do a marathon. Unless you really want to. But it's painful.

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Ann: My I Think I Can Campaigns have been completely different where it wasn't about me achieving anything, it was about me just having a party. So I've had a few taco trucks at my house. And we had our housewarming party, was a fundraiser for ATC. And my 50th birthday, and then my 51st birthday, and my 53rd birthday. All of those I've had as, and I'm putting air finger quotes around “I Think I Can.” “I think I can” eat a lot of tacos and drink a lot, apparently, is what I thought I could do.

Ann: I succeeded.

Loren: I'm considering changing my campaign to eating tacos and drinking tequila.

Ann: Come to the other side, Loren.