I Got Heart... So Do You!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This month's "Everyday is Humanitarian Day" spotlight is dedicated to an organization that works to "empower teens to follow their heart" in the Washington, DC metropolitan area-- I Got Heart.
I Got Heart was created in 2008 to (1) support youth who want to make an impact in the community about an issue they are passionate about, and (2) change the paradigm and belief system that youth, especially those from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, lack the potential to lead change and make significant contributions to the world.
No one can tell the story of I Got Heart better than its founder and executive director, Chanatip 'Tip' Fallon.  Tip, a native of Prince George’s County in Maryland, founded the organization to make a difference in the lives of teens in the community where he was raised.

In Tip's words, "I thought about the area of Prince George’s County I grew up in and the many who had taught me these values--perseverance, sacrifice, gratitude, and unity.  I thought about how important these values are in comparison to financial gain and how we often ignore these values in people.  Youth from underserved backgrounds may not have a high probability of becoming doctors or making six-figures, but they have something that I consider far more important woven into the fabric of their communities and being – character, and heart.

What if we took the heart that people, especially youth, from underserved backgrounds already have, and applied the support and resources for them to make a positive impact in their communities?  What if we found a way to articulate the values or heart that we have and begin to connect with one another based on our shared values instead of on superficial labels and identities?  What if we could amplify the power, positivity and strength that result from living our lives with heart?  How would that impact our communities, lives, and shared experience?

...I wanted to create a world where kids didn’t have to resort to breaking into cars.  That’s when I knew I had to do something with these thoughts and realizations; that was the spark for I Got Heart."

Heart Awards 

Left to Right: Jay Choi (recipient, Wooton HS) and project volunteers, and Tip Fallon (I Got Heart founder & executive director)

I Got Heart offers a $500 grant--Heart Award-- to selected youth, so they have the opportunity to execute projects that will make a positive impact in their communities and personal lives.  How does the Heart Award work?  The youths define their project, while the I Got Heart team works with them to find the most effective and economical way to bring their idea to reality.  For example, if a youth wants to use the money to build a swing set in his/her community, the I Got Heart team and the teen work to find the most efficient product or method of getting the swing set built.

Heart Award recipient, Lisa Delao (Woodbridge HS)
As an all volunteer organization, I Got Heart is always looking for volunteers, mentors,  and donations.  The youth are the leaders of our future and I think it is a great way of encouraging youth to be innovative, creative, and engaged in their communities.

I also urge you to make a donation to I Got Heart!  Your donations will make it possible for the  dreams of more youth helping their communities come true.  I know times are financially challenging, but forgoing coffee or tea at Starbucks or a meal at a fancy eatery can help to create a Heart Award for an amazing individual or group.  If you know of a person or organization that would like to sponsor a Heart Award, contact Tip Fallon at Tip@heartawards.org. love+live.life!

(Thanks to I Got Heart for sharing pictures of past recipients of the Heart Awards)

Prusse Kakpovi (recipient, Montgomery Blair HS) & Paula Matallana (Gandhi Brigade)
Left to Right: Anthony Fernanez, Adrian Hinjosa, Herson Bautista, Tiffany Spencer, Andre Mons, Mary Bui, Sandrine Emambu (various schools including Montgomery Blair HS)
Deries Ford, Heart Award recepient
Heart Award recipient, Deries Ford with members of Job Corps in Woodland- a residential federal workforce development program

Herson Bautista and Sandrine Emambu ( Heart Award recipients)


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