From Tantrum to Treasure – the Magic of ePIFany Now
By: Stephanie Lewis
October 26, 2011 11:45 am CT
By Guest Blogger Bob Hoffman of ePIFany Now
Since my twenties, I’ve thought about what it might be like to be a philanthropist. Perhaps the desire came while working as a reporter for a TV news station and often being assigned to cover stories involving people who were in dire straits. I would often meet people who from the outside appeared to have nothing, but were doing incredible things with their lives and giving back to their communities. Then, two years ago a thought materialized in ways I never dreamed possible. I didn’t win the lottery or receive an inheritance. Instead, I was cut off in traffic! Yes, an aggressive driver sparked an idea that’s grown into a non-profit to help people realize the power of giving.
Initially, a surge of anger went through my veins when the unknown driver raced in front of me only to be caught in the same traffic standstill I was in. Then, I had a thought: this person was in such a hurry, he probably didn’t even pay attention to anything around him, including me. I envisioned a few unique ways to get him to notice me; I could have rammed my car into his bumper or honked my horn.
A new thought entered my mind. What if I got out of my car, knocked on his window and gave the driver $50. I started to chuckle. That’s when it hit me; I wasn’t paying attention to anything around me either! I, too, was in a hurry.
Traffic started moving again and as I drove home, my mind was racing. Are we so caught up in our own situations that we have become rude without even being aware of it? We race to be first in the checkout line. We rush to work, school or daycare. We speed to reach our next destination on the roadways and freeways. In our haste to get where we need to be, have we lost the ability to see outside our own perspective?
I had an epiphany. I called five friends and invited them to join me in a planned afternoon of passing kindness forward. I gave them ideas on ways to make a difference in someone’s life, and we came back together to share what we did. What was supposed to be a small group quickly grew.
Our first pass-it-forward event drew more than 200 people. The positive energy of the room was palpable. Many participants kept asking when the next event was going to be. I decided to name the gatherings “ePIFany Now Parties” based on the “epiphany” I had when the car cut in front of me. It’s spelled with a “PIF” for Pass It Forward. Since the first gathering, there have been ten others across the state of Michigan.
GM’s own Connie Burke attended the ePIFany Now party this past June in East Lansing, Mich. and inquired about partnering with GM to bring the event to the Chicago area. On October 1, we held our first Chicago ePIFany Now party at Chevrolet of Naperville.
Getting to Chicago for the event was a lot of fun. Connie loaned us a 2012 Chevy Equinox for the ride there and back. What an experience! This vehicle’s ride is smooth, yet there was plenty of room for two large suitcases, as well as a couple of boxes of party supplies – with plenty of space left. The best part for me was the built in navigation feature. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost because the navigation system and OnStar were with us the entire ride. We sat back and enjoyed the drive. The only draw-back was that I had to give the car back at the end of our trip!
The event was a huge success with more than 50 people attending to learn about ePIFany Now. GM was kind enough to give participants the opportunity to test drive the new Chevrolet Volt and other Chevrolet vehicles while passing it forward. A few hours later, everyone arrived back to share their stories and celebrate. New friendships were formed.
Those who passed it forward did everything from delivering pizza to visiting friends in area hospitals. Everyone’s story was inspirational! Amy DeRosa, one of the participants and a recent winner of the Our Town, Our Heroes program, was so inspired she has incorporated the ePIFany Now concept into her everyday life and has been sharing her acts of kindness on Facebook.
The excitement I get from ePIFany Now continues to grow. I’ve learned it’s just as much fun to give as it is to receive. Most importantly, it’s not about money. It’s about validating another individual and letting them know they aren’t alone. We are all in this life together! It’s also about breaking those balls of stress that often consume us.
I have no idea who the person is who cut me off in traffic, but ironically that person has inspired an idea that has grown to impact thousands of people. It is individuals like Connie Burke and thousands of others who have attended ePIFany Now parties that continue to make a difference! To all those people I say thank you! WE HAVE DONE SOMETHING to make this world a better place.
For more information on ePIFany Now, visit http://www.ePIFany Now.org/.