What I Know For Sure

When I was young, my mother would start each day by saying, “Do something good for yourself and for others.” It was her way of instilling the importance of service in me and my siblings, from a very early age.

Her spirit of generosity inspires so much of who I am, and what I do. So, when I started C.Fox more than a decade ago, it was only natural that service to others would be at the core of our business model. We work hard each day to give as much of our time and talent as we can to help drive the missions of meaningful nonprofit organizations forward.

Six years ago, we significantly increased our public commitment to service when we launched the inspired thought Award, a nationwide grant of pro bono dollars to support worthy nonprofits. Our 2015 award granted $50,000 in pro bono communications services, but it’s our very first it Award grantee that inspires this week’s intersection.

N Street Village is the largest provider of housing and services for women experiencing homelessness in Washington DC. In the last several years, they’ve also become a national model for effective solutions. In 2010, we awarded them our first pro bono grant to help build their brand, tell their story, and engage new audiences. But, that makes it sound like any run-of-the-mill assignment. Our work with N Street Village transformed how we think about service, and set the foundation for the role we aim to have in all client relationships.

Yesterday, at their 10th annual Empowerment Luncheon, which raises funds to help homeless and low-income women achieve stability and make life-changing personal and professional gains, I sat back in awe as Oprah Winfrey delivered keynote remarks. She spoke about her commitment to intentionality; how being intentional in her own decision-making had changed her life, and how she viewed N Street Village as an “intentional organization.”

She went on to say, “In life, we all want to know: Do you hear me? Do you see me? Everyone who works at N Street Village understands that principle. They know that every woman who comes through those doors wants to be seen, heard, and to know that her life matters.”

And then, Oprah Winfrey announced a surprise commitment of $1 million to support the organization’s mission.

It was remarkable, it was overwhelming. It was perfect.

Mark Twain said “the two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.”

I’m certain that I have yet to discover my why (though I like to think I’m on to something) but, in the words of Oprah Winfrey, there is “one thing I know for sure: we are who we are based on how we treat people.” Service of any kind—whether a big commitment like Oprah’s to N Street Village, or a small act of service designed to “do something good for others”—it all matters equally, and it will always bring out the best in others.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Kim for N Street Village)