I wanted to share a personal story and why we do what we do.
I was the product of a teenage pregnancy. My parents were just out of high school.
For numerous reasons I never met my biological father so while I was not technically an orphan, I always wondered.
I had a name and a name of his sister. That is all. In those days, we just had the phone book. So I went through the phone book and never could find anyone.
My mother, when she became sick the first time, turned to creating her legacy of genealogy the analogue way of tracking the family tree and sending photocopied newsletters to all of the relatives on a monthly basis.
Once I moved to Japan, we relied on fax machines and then eventually the “internet” to keep in touch.
When the internet came along, I realized I could continue to look for my aunt with the unique name and so did searches, paid for info, looked all over the country but never was quite successful.
Years went passed. My mother unfortunately did not live passed 49 and so me having just turned 50 has been a eye opening experience.
Yet it was in 2007 when I was asked to play Santa in one of the children’s homes in Japan so over the many years tried to do what I could. I was offered to be the director of Living Dreams, as many of you know.
And it was a donor, who had moved on to another company but came up to me at a party and said, “You should contact the Masons. They give $1,000,000 a year away to charity.” I told him my great grandfather had been a mason. Another friend said, “If your great grandfather had been a mason, you should try to be one.”
I went online that night to the now digitized version of our family tree on Ancestry.com.
I updated the names of my twin daughters and while I was about to close the site, I scrolled over my mother’s name and the data has been improved quite a bit since 2010 when I was on the site last. If fact, it had the marriage records of her marrying my biological father and while I had thought he had passed away by then, he hadn’t.
And by doing those Internet searches way into the night I found that he was remarried an living in Fresno, California and that I had sisters I did not know about.
So, I made a copy of my baby photo and business card and sent it to the address online and received a message from one of my new found sisters via LinkedIN (very modern) meeting one’s siblings on LinkedIn!?!
I have since met almost everyone in the family on that side. I met the aunt who I couldn’t find and found that there are two more.
I have nieces and nephews and very happy to have them in our lives along with my own siblings from birth.
The phone book couldn’t take me to where I wanted to go. My paternal grandparents are buried in the same mausoleum as my great grandfather in Napa…yet our paths never crossed.
If I had never been invited to play Santa, I would never have known there are 30,000 children living in homes in Japan.
I would have never met that donor.
The conversation would never have taken place.
And now my life is quite complete.
Technology and connectivity matters.
That is why we do the work we do with the kids in Japan.
To connect them to a future or information so that they don’t just rely on a phonebook.
When is the last time you left your phone at home and went without wifi for a day.
Imagine going 18 years...
....or in my case 48 years.