Dreams Do Come True Paula Knudsen
We’ve all heard that “it takes a village to raise a child.” I believe it also takes a village to make a dream come true. It takes a village to keep a dream growing until it touches everyone and encompasses everything it possibly can.
Dreams are such a powerful force in my life. Whether they are waking ones, in which I brainstorm ways to help make a difference in the world, or whether they come to me as I sleep-full of art, poetry and solutions to problems plaguing friends-dreams have always directed my actions-and in very positive ways for which I will forever be grateful.
Who are we without our dreams? We all have dreams. And I know from firsthand experience that we are all called to help each other’s dreams come to fruition.
Growing up in a wealthy town, I noticed at a very young age that despite the prosperity there, people in my town were still going hungry. I couldn’t understand it. How, when so many had so much, could some have so little? It was absurd. I learned that life isn’t fair. And I felt stirrings, then, that later led me to pursue a lifelong dream of creating a sustainable end to hunger on the planet.
After hearing Lyn Twist speak about The Hunger Project, I started following my dream by forming a 501(c)(3) organization that created and worked with various anti-hunger projects-such as Fair Foods, which involved homeless folks in the sale and distribution of donated foods at dollar-bag sites throughout the city of Boston. I organized small food drives in my town. Soon I had involved my local post office in a food drive that ultimately became May’s National Food Drive at post offices around the country. Along with friends, volunteers and family members, we delivered donated food to shelters in the Boston area.
Sometimes the nonprofit work was tiring-but it was always rewarding. Thanks to my team, the dream continued to feed itself with more and more action, inspiration and the immeasurably great feeling of making a real difference in the world. It wasn’t abstract: the difference was tangible and beautiful.
One day my mother and I, en route to a shelter in Brockton, Massachusetts, picked up a wonderful donation from a bakery: a beautiful yellow cake decorated with pretty curlicues of frosting and a little ballerina on top. When we pulled up at the shelter with our load of donations, we saw a little girl in mismatched socks sitting on the front steps, sobbing her heart out. I went to her and asked, “What’s wrong, sweetie?” Her sadness was so acute I felt like crying myself. Nose running, she hiccupped, “It’s my birthday, and I don’t even have a cake!”
Generosity creates serendipity.
My mother and I looked at each other. “Oh my God,” I said. “That’s why we’re here!” We ran in to speak to the director of the shelter, who shortly managed to gather everyone together to sing “Happy Birthday” and present Olivia with her ballerina birthday cake. When I saw the look of surprise and delight on Olivia’s face, it made every moment of hard work worthwhile. It’s why I did what I did.
My work began to yield speaking engagements, not just locally but all over the world. I was invited to Australia to speak about the possibility of a sustainable end to hunger! I spoke at Earth Day in Boston and collected food there, too. I persuaded Aerosmith to make their New Year’s Eve concert a food drive for the Boston Food Bank, and I spoke at every opportunity to enroll businesses and organizations as participants. My invitation was simple: each time a meeting, workshop, fundraiser or gathering of any kind occurred, they would simply ask each attendee to bring food items to be contributed to someone else.
In the meantime, my boss at my bartending job was becoming frustrated with my constant need for time off. I didn’t know how to juggle all my new responsibilities along with my job, and being a single mom didn’t make it any easier. So I got on my knees and asked for a dream. I dreamt THE FRUMPLE FACTORY®.