By Hal Eisenberg
February 23, 2014
“Up the steps of the church, through the fields in the dirt, in the dark I have seen, that the sun still shines for the one who believed.” – Bon Jovi
I have a few “thinking spots” in NYC that I like to visit in order to gather my thoughts. Some of them are obvious and many people – especially the ones close to me, know the places I escape to. The Brooklyn Bridge Promenade, the 2nd bench on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge Walkway, Central Park, and The Whitestone Bridge are a few of those locations. However, I have one, which nobody knows about, and that is where I sit now gathering my after thoughts.
The temperature is 54 degrees and dropping – a stark contrast to the 90 we just came from. Flying into New York City has proven to be more difficult than I imagined. As we came in over the Rockaways you could see some of the damage still inflicted from Hurricane Sandy and the aerial view thrusted me back into last year when the heart and soul of Windows of Opportunity and our newly formed Emergency Response Team rose to action. They got down and dirty, put their gloves on, sweated in the nitty gritty of the wreckage, ran their events, worked in shelters, and made a huge difference. I realized how blessed I am to have so many good souls surrounding me. We are not large enough to make a difference everywhere yet, but we are doing more than can be expected. I am proud that we do it all with passion and vision, and not with a huge budget. Whether it is local based tragedies or global initiatives, we have a tremendous vision, which is happening and unfolding before our eyes. It you actually take a step back and look at the enormity of what we are accomplishing one program, one event, one trip, and one child at a time, it is awe-inspiring. The puzzle pieces are powerful. I just need to get in front of the right investors and business partners because once you comprehend this mission and see our vision, there is truly no reason NOT to invest.
Wow – have all my blogs been like this? That was a total branch off from my reflections. I love my friends and my team, but as I touched down at JFK International Airport I had a sense of anxiety I never felt before. For those next 6 hours back in New York City I faced a series of emotions that I struggled with deeply. I drove by and visited the usual sites – I headed to the church because there was a Taking Back Queens show happening, drove past a Starbucks, and eventually to my home. Though it all seemed familiar, it felt very different. It seemed to have all changed, or perhaps it was me who has changed. Even being at the church and watching the bands do their thing, I knew it was their little magic moment in this spot of the world. Does it stop here or is this the start of a model for programs elsewhere? The admission price to get into the show was more than one days pay for a Haitian. We have electricity to run this show. The power in Les Abricots is going out at this time. Why am I seeing these things? Why is this standing out? Why can I not stop thinking about this? More importantly, why am I “FEELING” this?
I am proud of all these inititatives – The Inner You – Taking Back Queens – Rock Your Heart Out – Shortstack – WOO Films – Love in Action, and the list goes on, but I am missing something. Something feels very different, or maybe needed. I am not sure. The programs at Windows of Opportunity are all magical and about to come together in a way that I am not even sure I can fathom at the moment. I went on a mission to help the world and I think I found something much bigger. Perhaps I found a new beginning.
It is bothering me today how much I own and have available at my fingertips, compared to the people in Haiti. In actuality, and I don’t mind being completely visible again, but we spent a fortune on Haiti. I even had to take out a loan to cover some expenses, so it has left us in a financial bind that I foresee kicking our butts a little bit for at least a month to a month in a half (maybe longer). I know the resilience and support of my team will get us through the aftermath of my “risk taking for the sake of vision”, but even with that, I cannot and should not complain. I have a dresser and a closet full of clothes. They have 3 outfits in many homes. I remember moving into this new apartment with so much apprehension and not liking it at all – but now I see it differently – I looked around when I got home, took a long hot shower, and counted all my blessings. I feel like I live in a mansion and unless I get married and have children, I do not need more than I have now. I honestly feel like I have too much. My car is “luxury” to me… and speaking of luxury, I turned on the radio to hear a commercial about a new car being the “ultimate luxury”, how we “deserve” luxury, and we should buy into this idea of without luxury we “haven’t made it.” I don’t know why but the commercial is gnawing at my soul. Why do we need more? There is enough resources and food on this planet to take care of everyone, unless we all hoard it up for ourselves. Perhaps I am going to an extreme and I guess it is okay to want more out of life, but in this moment I am bothered by all these realizations. Perhaps the struggle I feel is the overwhelming number of people I see who do not embrace their blessings and stay stuck within negative energy. Life is simply way too short and we are tremendously surrounded by and drowning in abundance. Therefore what is the reason for the deep misery?
Ironically, the hypocrite side of me finally caved today and walked into a Starbucks. I saw a long line and I stood there for a moment and stared at it. I asked myself why am I here, and thought about the kids I saw back in Haiti. I turned around and walked right out of Starbucks. I hope I do not go back. Money seems different to me as well. Spending it has more meaning, and the thought of having it seems to be from a place of blessing. I cannot purchase one thing without this feeling of guilt and realizing how far this can go in Haiti. I do this for the most part anyways, but I wish I could only spend my money on our programs becoming more impacting and far reaching. I was trying to figure it out off the top of my head, but I have easily put in over $200,000 of my own money into Windows of Opportunity in the past 10 years. We have paid our dues for sure, and now it is time to step into the next level of our existence, locating long term sustainable funding sources.
I go back into the New York City schools tomorrow and I cannot wait to share with my new leadership class my experience in Haiti. Doing the workshops at Paradis Des Indianes was definitely the highlight of the trip, but working on the roof, meeting the gracious people in so many villages, and working with the students was so incredibly impacting for all that were involved. I am so very very deeply grateful for my team who went with me. They endured a lot and stayed strong. They deserve all the recognition they can get. My team back home is my heart, soul and backbone to every step I take towards fulfilling my vision. My aunt up above, who Windows of Opportunity is named after (The Barbara Harmon Institute), must have hand picked each of them for me because they are each a heavenly blessing. Last but not least, Patricia, Joe and the family at From Here to Haiti – you are doing God’s work and you are angels on this earth. You have my undying support. I know this will be the first of many trips and adventures in Haiti.
With that said, I guess this brings me to the end of my blog. I should come up with some great impacting spiritual reflection and message to inspire you all, but I am hoping this 11 part blog series has been one long ongoing message that is full of inspiration. Instead, I will end with thanking each and every one of you – our readers and supporters. We could not do any of this without your support. Whether it is time or financial (and we always need both) we are eternally thankful. Running this organization can get a little “cray cray” at times, so if I do not reach out to you to thank you personally, please do not be offended, as your efforts are always felt and deeply appreciated. We have so much coming up and we cannot continue our success without you. I am hoping to return to the schools in Haiti at the end of April to do a few days of workshops with the 13 schools. We are making some strategic moves that I am hoping will change our financial and resource status, but we do need you and always will. I hope we continue to impact you, empower you, and have you a part of the Windows of Opportunity family for a lifetime. God Bless and always always Keep the Faith…
For more info on From Here to Haiti, visit www.fromheretohaiti.org
For more info on Windows of Opportunity, visit www.eisenbergacdmy.wpengine.com
For more info on Shortstack, visit www.wooshortstack.org
For more info on The Inner You, visit www.theinneryou.org
For more info on WOO Films, visit www.eisenbergacdmy.wpengine.com/wooincfilms
For more info on Rock Your Heart Out, visit www.rockurheartout.com