Episode 6
June 15, 2020
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Episode 6
June 15, 2020

Kids are innately helpful. Meet the organization helping children cultivate that desire while raising money for charity.

Kids are innately helpful. Meet the organization helping children cultivate that desire while raising money for charity.

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About Teaching Kids How to Make a Real Difference: Kids Boost

What if we could get more children and teens excited about doing crazy good turns for others? 

What if there were ways for kids to get more involved and make a difference in their communities, or to causes that matter to them most? 

Those are the questions our guest Kristen Witzel was asking herself when the idea for Kids Boost first struck her. Today, Kids Boost is a nonprofit in Atlanta that helps kids ages 8-14 to come up with creative ways to use the things they love to raise money for causes that matter to them. 

Growing Generosity

Through Kids Boost, children are given $100 seed money and matched with a coach who helps them dream up and execute fun fundraiser ideas, from dog shows to dance competitions. On average, these kids raise almost 20 times the amount of that investment while also learning vital skills in communication, self-esteem, and money management. 

More than just contributing money to important charities, Kids Boost taps into children’s innate desire to help and encourages them to grow into generous teens and altruistic adults. 

In this interview, you’ll hear:

  • An amazing story of how cupcakes transformed one child from shy but passionate to a shining star in her community
  • What made Kristen quit a job she loved to chase a dream of empowering children, and what she gave up – and learned – in the process
  • The single question you can ask yourself when seeking to make a difference in the world
  • Why cultivating a generous attitude is beneficial to kids and adults alike

Give Crazy Good Thanks with $50 on Us

We’re still recognizing people doing good things for others with a thank-you note and $50 gift card good for virtually anything. 

Tell us who you think deserves recognition, what they did, and why that example is important to you, and we’ll send them a gift on your behalf. 

Nominate your favorite do-gooder today.

Kristen Witzel Interview

FRANK BLAKE: Kristen founded and runs an organization called Kids Boost. Why don’t we start, Kristin, with the basics. Why don’t you say a little bit about what Kids Boost is about.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Sure. Thank you for having me. Kids Boost is a non-profit organization that’s just designed to help kids give back to the world in a fun and meaningful way. So what we do is we empower kids to use the things that they love to make a difference to a cause that’s important to them, but what we do is we give kids $100 startup money, kind of like seed money. We give them a one-on-one coach and we help them turn that $100 into more for a non-profit of their choice but we do it using the things that they love.

FRANK BLAKE: Fantastic.

KRISTEN WITZEL: It’s all about empowering our next generation of philanthropists and social entrepreneurs. We want to teach kids that even at the age of eight, 10, 12 years old, that they can make a difference by using the things that they love and that they enjoy.

FRANK BLAKE: Do you have one favorite example you could share? I mean, not mentioning names, obviously, but one example of, gee, you take this child who comes into the program, struggling with his or her own issues but really has a phenomenal experience through Kids Boost?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. I have one child that comes to my mind and she was a middle school child, I want to say, sixth grade, and was bullied at school and really had a lot of self-esteem concerns and her father was in the military. And while he was alive and well, it scared her to death to think that there are other kids that have lost their hero, their loved one, in the war. So she wanted to do something to help kids that have lost a parent in the war. And she came to me and I remember when we first met and I was her Kids Boost coach, and we talked about her favorite things. Her face lit up when she talked about baking and she loved to create lemon infused cupcakes and all these amazing desserts, and her face lit up.

So we kind of came up with a game plan. We talked about her $100 and we talked about how you can either spend your $100 on the baked goods supplies or, because we are a non-profit, you can be courageous and go talk to a grocery store manager or a bakery and ask, “Would you be willing to support me?” This is my why, this is my how, but you can imagine how intimidating that is.

FRANK BLAKE: Oh for sure.

KRISTEN WITZEL: To walk up to a manager at Publix and say “Hey, here’s my wish list. This is what I want to do,” but that’s where the Kids Boost coach comes in so we practice and we empower and we talk about what happens if they say no. Is it because they don’t like you or they don’t like the military? No! It’s because they can’t. And we even celebrate when they get a no, by the way, because we’re like, celebrate it and we’re going to move on because the next person will likely say yes. So anyway, so she went and she got all of her supplies donated so she didn’t even have to spend her $100 startup money so that automatically…

FRANK BLAKE: It all went to marketing.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yeah. Well, she didn’t even have to do that. We got creative there too, Frank.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah.

KRISTEN WITZEL: So she spent days making all of her infused cupcakes and packaging them. We talked about how to package and all of these different things and she went to a local restaurant and asked if she could set up a booth outside of the restaurant on a busy day. And again, took courage and the restaurant said, “Absolutely, and anybody who buys a dessert during those hours, we will donate 100% to your project.”

FRANK BLAKE: Oh, my gosh. How cool.

KRISTEN WITZEL: And so, but the best part about it was we set everything up and it was a beautiful display. She worked so hard. She made the signs, she priced everything, she made every baked good, but when it was time to open the door, she kind of froze and it was like she didn’t want to talk. And so, we had to have a pep talk and I just said, “How are people going to know it’s just not a normal cupcake. This cupcake is helping kids who’ve lost their family member. You’ve got to talk about your why.”

So we practiced a little bit and oh, my goodness, this girl just came out of her shell. I looked over at one point and her mom had stepped away and was crying because she had seen her child blossom.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow.

KRISTEN WITZEL: All of these people stopped by to thank her, to buy her baked goods, to donate to her cause, and she walked out of there and she had raised, I want to say it was about $1400.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow, wow.

KRISTEN WITZEL: The next day, the local newspaper contacted me and ended up sharing her story and then the principal at her school heard about it and shared it over the announcement and she became this little star sixth grader.

So when she started, the first time I met her, she was this timid, shy, self-doubt, but had this great huge heart, full of passion. When we did that check presentation, at the end of the day, the difference in that smile and the difference in that girl were huge. And now to see, she now continues to come and volunteer and to give back through Kids Boost and other organizations.

FRANK BLAKE: That’s such an amazing story and such a crazy good turn on a crazy good turn on a Crazy Good Turn. That’s really fantastic. You must be very, very proud of those stories.

KRISTEN WITZEL: I am, thank you.

FRANK BLAKE: So Kristen, when did you start Kids Boost?

KRISTEN WITZEL: I started it in late 2014, early 2015 and it was all after I met a child… I worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for about 15 years, prior to this and I had kind of that aha moment. And so it took me a little bit to get started, I had the idea but we’re about five years in now and we’re super excited about the potential of helping even more kids.

FRANK BLAKE: And what was the aha moment?

KRISTEN WITZEL: So I worked with this young man named Jared and when he was young he had broken his arm but it wasn’t just your normal break of an arm. He had severed a main artery and they told him that he’d likely no longer have use of his arm but after lots of therapy in rehab, Jared had full mobility of his arm and wanted to do something to give back to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. How old is Jared?

KRISTEN WITZEL: At the time of his accident I want to say he was seven or eight years old.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow.

KRISTEN WITZEL: He came back to us at about 13 years old.

FRANK BLAKE: So six years of therapy and hard work.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes, and tons of surgeries and lots of hard work and so he wanted to give back but he wanted to do it in a meaningful way. And so, we brainstormed together and he talked about how one of his therapies was using those, the indoor climbing places where he would climb walls.

FRANK BLAKE: Rock walls, yes.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. And you could imagine that that’s hard and a great therapy when you’re trying to regain use of your arm. Well, so what we did is we decided to have Jared’s Climb for Kids and he got family and friends to pledge per wall that he could climb and he would raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and he would climb until he couldn’t climb anymore.

FRANK BLAKE: And how involved were you in this? I mean, first off, Jared must be quite extraordinary because he goes through all this time, he’s a teenager and he says, “No, I want to give back to others.”

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. So Children’s had just asked if, the leadership at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, had just asked and said, “Can you kind of brainstorm with him and see if he can’t find a meaningful way?” He didn’t just want to collect DVDs for instance, which is helpful but he wanted to get his feet just a little bit wet. He wanted to do something and so I just had the privilege, honestly of sitting down with he and his family and brainstorming and then that conversation led to numerous conversations throughout the project and kind of logistics of how are we going to do this, when are we going to do this, how can we get the support, and sure enough, he climbed for two days and was able to raise $2500.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow.

KRISTEN WITZEL: To give back to help teenagers while in the hospital. And when he was coming to present his check I remember thinking very clearly, what if every kid had the opportunity to use something that they love to help a cause that is meaningful to them? And that was when the idea of Kids Boost was born.

FRANK BLAKE: And how did you come up with the structure around it? How did you take that inspiration from Jared, seeing it fulfilled, how do you come up with a full blown idea?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Well, so… it’s a good question. So I sat on it, to be completely honest. I sat on the idea and I journaled about it and just really brainstormed, what’s out there. As a mom, I realized that as a parent we want our kids to do… we want our kids to volunteer. We want our kids to do great things and to be generous and loving but, let’s just be honest, there’s not many opportunities out there for young children to volunteer, and for understandable reasons, safety and concerns.

FRANK BLAKE: You’re talking roughly the age bracket… what age bracket are you talking?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Kids Boost works with kids 8 to 14, and that’s the age group that I really talk about a lot because they are the kids that are on fire. They’re the kids who really want to make a difference in the world. They have passion, they have time, they have energy. But we don’t ask our kids too often, what breaks your heart?

FRANK BLAKE: Right.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Who do you want to help? We kind of tell our kids, you know what, today we’re going to go run this race or we’re going to sell cookies for this cause or whatever the case may be, and all that is wonderful but when do we ever stop and say, What’s on your heart? Who would you like to help? And so I kind of journaled all these thoughts and really reflected a lot on Jared, but, to be honest, I was a single mom and I thought, I love my job, I can’t just quit my job to start a non-profit, and so I sat on it but it just kept kind of eating at me and I kept dreaming and dreaming and so finally I just decided one day, I’m going to take my savings and I am going to reach out to some of the kids in my neighborhood and say, “Let’s just try this. Humor me for a minute.”

And so I gave ten kids $100 and I said, “I will help you through the whole process but I’m going to give you this $100 and I’m going to ask you one simple question. What makes your heart happy? And with that we are going to turn that $100 into more for a charity…”

FRANK BLAKE: They knew it had to be to help others. It couldn’t be what makes my heart happy is playing Minecraft.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Exactly.

FRANK BLAKE: Right.

KRISTEN WITZEL: And it could be that Minecraft makes their heart happy but then our challenge was to figure out, how can we use Minecraft to make the difference in the world.

FRANK BLAKE: Oh, wow. So you started with anything, just what makes my heart happy. It doesn’t have to be helping others, then you use that as the entry point for the helping of others.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Exactly.

FRANK BLAKE: Oh, that’s brilliant.

KRISTEN WITZEL: I think that we’re in a day and an age where we see that giving and community service can often be looked at as this negative thing, which confuses me. It’s a punishment if you do something wrong, you get community service or you…

FRANK BLAKE: It’s a little bit like spinach, yeah.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Exactly. If you have to do X amount of hours to get into this club or to college, and while those are beautiful things, kids innately want to make a difference. They want to do something, they just need a little help and they need a little empowerment and that’s where Kids Boost really comes in.

So after years of kind of dreaming about it, I took a crazy leap of faith. I started with the 10 kids in my neighborhood and it was very exciting. They did everything from an ice cream social to a tennis tournament, just a little neighborhood tennis tournament.

FRANK BLAKE: So how would it work? So first you ask them, “What makes your heart happy?” And they will go, for the sake of discussion, somebody says, tennis. And then how do you work from there into the program?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yeah. So we ask, the first question is, “What makes your heart happy?” and they can come with any kind of answer. Then we ask them, is there a non-profit that you already know of or a cause that you are connected with? So maybe it’s the animal shelter that they rescued their dog. Or, maybe… we’ve had some kids that have endured cancer or whose family member might have MS or maybe their father is in the military. So a lot of times these kids have some sort of connection, but not always. Some kids just say, “I want to make a difference.”

So what we do is we pair those questions of what makes your heart happy and kind of what breaks your heart, if they don’t have a cause. And we start brainstorming and the kid is in control. We say, “The kid is the boss.” The coach, the Kids Boost coach that’s provided, is just their cheerleader, their encourager.

FRANK BLAKE: And the coach is a volunteer from your neighborhood or the community or where does the coach come from?

KRISTEN WITZEL: It’s actually a trained person, a trained person in child development. This is somebody who knows kids. We work with kids of all abilities, all backgrounds, and so all of our Kids Boost coaches are trained to work with kids and work with families in all different areas. And so, they’re able to meet the child where they are, where they’re at, and really help them. Our biggest goal as a Kids Boost coach is to improve self-esteem and to give these kids the opportunity to catch that giving bug.

FRANK BLAKE: So this is brilliant because it’s also developing the child as well as helping others and I assume and these coaches, I didn’t realize that they were trained professionals. Are there exercises that they typically, do they have objectives that they’re working through with each child?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. Like I said, one of our biggest goals is self-esteem but we also have life skills that we want… it’s kind of on the down low to the kids because if we said, “Hey, we’re going to teach you about money management and taxes…”

FRANK BLAKE: More spinach.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. Nobody would want to do it. But what we’re trying to do is teach those real life lessons in a very fun and meaningful way. So afterwards, some of our parents talk about how they’ve seen their kid communicate with a third party adult, that they’ve never seen that happen before. Kids are constantly texting but often, how many times do we see our kids pick up the phone to call an adult to have a conversation.

We give them that $100 which is empowering. It’s for two purposes. First, is we keep all kids on an equal playing field. So we work with kids of all different backgrounds. So whether it’s a kid who wants to give back because they feel very fortunate or it might be a kid that’s typically the recipient of some of… maybe it’s a meal bag or the recipient of non-profits and they want to say, thank you. So that $100 keeps all of our kids on an equal playing field. It’s a free program, by the way, as well. The kids don’t pay to participate.

And then, the second thing that it does, that $100, is that it automatically gives them a sense of empowerment and responsibility and it teaches them about money management. So let’s say that, that child said that, on their list of things that make their heart happy, they may have things like pizza, tennis, music, friends, could be a long list of great things, right? So that coach is there to help them make this a project so they have their startup money but anything they don’t spend gets added to that pot of money and as long as they come back with $101 they’re considered successful. However, our kids average about $1900.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. They turn $100 into $1900 of donations.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Exactly, for non-profits of their choice. And so, at the end of the project, they get to take the big, we call them Ellen-style checks, they get to go and take the check to the non-profit and we try to connect the dots about where that money is going and other ways that they can get involved with that organization.

FRANK BLAKE: So how does a child know that this exists? Do you get… is it just word of mouth or do you have lots of people applying? How does that work?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yeah. So it’s a little bit of both. At first, we started… We also do some programming within schools and churches and temples and community groups, just really trying to empower kids to use what they have to make a difference and with that we get some of our kids boosters. I would say though honestly one of the biggest ways that we’ve received is word of mouth. I always say awesome kids hang out with awesome kids. So you have a kids booster who’s doing a project and maybe they’re hosting a video game truck to help rescue dogs, maybe that’s their project. Likely, one of their kids, one of their friends, I mean, will be in attendance and think, “Oh, I could do this. I want to do this.”

So it’s really fun because Kids Boost is a cycle of giving. So 80% of whatever the child raises goes directly to the non-profit of their choice. The other 20% goes to help another kid get started with their materials and their start up money.

FRANK BLAKE: Paying it forward.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Exactly.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah. What are some of your favorite ideas that have been created through this?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Gosh, we’ve had so many. We’ve had 168 kids participate but we’ve had everything from a bracelet making party. We’ve had a dog show where one of the little girls did everybody could bring their dogs and enter it into the dog show and she gave awards to every dog. We’ve had ice cream socials, video game trucks, video games, as you mentioned, Minecraft. Video games are a big thing so that’s always a good one. Sports, we’ve had penalty kick challenges for our soccer players. We’ve had competitions, dance competitions and fashion shows. We’ve had a little bit of everything and even during the pandemic we’ve kind of had to do a crazy good turn and we switched to a lot of virtual projects.

So we’ve helped kids, even during this time, to still use what they love to help a cause that’s important right now. And I think you and I both can agree that the world needs more love right now than ever so we’ve actually, over the past couple of months, have helped kids raise more than $25,000 for different causes. And that could be things like we have one little girl, Bella, who, at 10 years old, loves gymnastics and so she asked families to do a family virtual gymnastics routine and make a donation and all of the money went to go buy masks for frontline community heroes in her town.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. And has the virus made the fund raising part of what you do much more difficult because you can’t do in-person events or it’s just a speed bump. You’re over that.

KRISTEN WITZEL: A little bit of both, to be honest. I think that we’ve seen a little bit of changes in some of our fundraising from a big picture Kids Boost standpoint, but our kids are picking causes that are so relevant right now, so food pantries and hospitals, and so people want to help and I think we’re giving kids the opportunity to give but at the same time we’re giving adults the opportunity to give in a meaningful way as well.

FRANK BLAKE: So I read somewhere that you said, or maybe on your site, that you said, for the first couple of years, you were just living on peanut butter sandwiches and prayer. Talk a little bit about getting through that and staying with it instead of just saying, “Oh well. That was an interesting idea but back to Children’s Hospital now.”

KRISTEN WITZEL: Right. Honestly, peanut butter and a prayer is probably the perfect way to describe it. As a single mom it was really scary but I lost my mother earlier, a couple of years ago and very tragically and suddenly and it’s funny when you lose somebody you love, it gives you a whole new lease on life and you realize what’s important. And so, I think kind of a combination of different things gave me the courage just to do it and take this leap of faith because I really believe in kids. I believe that kids are capable of so much but there has to be a program. There has to be something out there.

I think most parents would agree we have great intentions for our kids, we want them to volunteer, we want them to do things, but when it all boils down to it, if there’s not opportunity, it’s not possible. And so, I thought, why not me? Why not do this? Why not pour into something I truly believe in, that could also give back to places like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta or veteran organizations while empowering children because that’s really what this is all about.

So to be completely honest, it hasn’t been easy and it’s not easy. Running a non-profit is the greatest thing in the world and the hardest thing in the world. We are not your typical non-profit. We’re different and so we don’t fit in a peg if you will, when it comes to getting grants and big gifts because we don’t fall under certain categories, food insecurities or education. However, it’s been amazing because I think the world all agrees that we’ve got to do something for our kids. We all want our kids to learn the joys of giving and to learn about these life skills and to learn that they can be a part of the solution. And what will happen if we invest in these kids at eight years old, at 12 years old? More than likely, they’re going to become these amazing teenagers who then become these entrepreneurs and philanthropists as adults, who will be sitting on our boards and truly making a difference, not because they had to, but because they wanted to and I think that’s the kicker.

FRANK BLAKE: So if you were giving advice to someone listening to you and saying, “Oh, my gosh, you’re so much a role model. I might like to do that sometime, take that, as you say, crazy leap of faith.” What’s the advice and counsel you’d give to them? What are, how do you get through the low points? What are the low points? What’s the advice you’d give to yourself now of five years ago?

KRISTEN WITZEL: It’s a really good question. I would say don’t reinvent the wheel. Make sure that your idea isn’t being done already. And if it is, partner with somebody. There is a lot of amazing things out there, a lot of amazing groups, and a lot of wonderful non-profits that are doing wonderful work. And so, partner with them as opposed to compete with them.

And so, I like to talk to anybody and everybody I can in the non-profit world, big and small, to learn from them and then also I think when it comes to the logistics of… you know, you’ll be surprised at what you can give up and the lifestyle changes you make.

FRANK BLAKE: So what surprised you that you gave up, that you looked back and say, “Oh, that was no problem,” but it was stressful at the time?

KRISTEN WITZEL: That’s a good question. Probably vacations. Being able to take my son on a trip or summer camps and stuff like that, those are luxuries that we don’t really do. However, we get our happiness in other areas. We don’t go out to eat a lot. But, I will say, also, I have the most amazing support network, people, friends, family, that believe in Kids Boost and believe in me, which I can’t think of a better compliment, that have helped me get through all of this and continue to because they believe in the concept of Kids Boost.

FRANK BLAKE: And what do you see as the future for Kids Boost? Where, if things played out the way you’d hope, five years from now, what’s Kids Boost and what are you doing?

KRISTEN WITZEL: I want every child that wants the opportunity to make a difference to have that opportunity. I want it to be just as easy for parents to sign up their child for Kids Boost as it is to sign your child up for soccer lessons or piano lessons. I want kids to look at philanthropy and giving back as fun. So I want it to be accessible.

Right now, we’re only in Georgia. My hope is to grow Kids Boost beyond Georgia, so five years might be pushing it a little bit but one day, one day, Frank, I hope I can say that Kids Boost is in all fifty states and beyond.

FRANK BLAKE: And then, at some point I suspect it becomes pretty difficult for you to handle it on your own and you got to get a staff. Where are you in that sort of developmental cycle for Kids Boost?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Sure. So right now we are a small but mighty team of three, which is even exciting because you know when you start it’s just one, so we like our team of three.

FRANK BLAKE: When did you hire your first person, out of curiosity?

KRISTEN WITZEL: About two years ago and then I hired my third about a year ago.

FRANK BLAKE: All right. And is the community that supports your idea, are they other child development specialists like yourself, educators, just a network of growing friends, what’s that community look like?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. It’s a lot of people that, first and foremost, believe in kids. I’m proud to say that our biggest supporters tend to be our past Kids Boost parents because they’ve seen their kids in action. They see that this isn’t just a bake sale. They see what their child, what all went into it, how their child grew, and the benefits of Kids Boost, that it wasn’t just a check presentation, that these kids gained all these life skills. And I’m also proud to say that, I think it’s 95% right now, of our kids want to stay involved and even do it again.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. Oh, that’s terrific.

KRISTEN WITZEL: So it’s really exciting to see. So our biggest supporters often are our own little community which I didn’t anticipate when I started it and it’s exciting to see that it’s a community of great kids who want to make a difference, who don’t want to stop. They want to keep giving.

The other key areas of people that I’ve seen that love to support Kids Boost are financial planners, people in the financial world, because they love the concept that we have given kids about $12,000 and they’ve turned that into 265,000.

FRANK BLAKE: Wow. That’s impressive.

KRISTEN WITZEL: So if you think about it from even just a helping our kids understand about money and money management in business, it’s a great way to do that while teaching philanthropy. So that’s another one of our areas of support, along with family foundations, families in general, who truly want to see the next generation of philanthropists, who want to empower our kids.

FRANK BLAKE: So in your role as a child development specialist, would you talk a little bit about philanthropy in children and what does that bring out? What does it reinforce? What are you seeing as the positives from that?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. Especially, right now. The world is a scary place, not just during the pandemic, but it’s a scary place. They hear about people that have cancer, whether that be in their school or in their family. They hear about animals being abused. They hear about war. They hear about people that are homeless or without food and that’s a really scary thing and I think kids hear about it but they often don’t know what they can do about it.

That’s where Kids Boost comes in and really, philanthropy, it gives them a positive coping, a positive outlet. It allows them to take action, to feel a part of the solution and feel like that they’re making a difference even at the age of eight, even at the age of ten, that they can do something to make a difference and that sense of control is powerful. I think, for adults, it’s powerful, but for a kid, even more so.

There’s studies also that show that just in general philanthropy and what it does for your mental health and what giving and helping others does for people in general. For adults, for kids, all ages, that it releases different hormones. It boosts your self-esteem and your self-confidence and that’s what we see, time and time again. Some of my favorite cases of kids that we’ve worked with are kids that actually have come to us and they might be bullied at school or they might be going through a really hard time. They may have cancer themselves. They may be struggling with homelessness and what we can do is empower them. You don’t have to have a lot of money to make a difference. You don’t have to be a certain age. What we see is we’re giving them the tools in a very age-appropriate way, to make a difference, to feel empowered and to watch these kids have the light bulb moments or when they receive a donation or they sell their first cupcake and that look on their face, it’s empowerment and it’s, I can do it. And they walk away with a whole different sense of accomplishment and a different sense of self and self worth. That’s what I love the most about it, is seeing these kids transform in just a matter of weeks and months.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah. So you say one of the questions you ask or that’s asked of the children is what’s in their heart, what do they love. How does this relate to what’s in your heart? Is this what’s in your heart? Do you go, boy, I answered that question? What makes my heart happy, this is it, or is it helping you find other things, or your own personal journey?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Gosh. I love that question. Yes, this is what makes my heart happy. I love kids. I love helping people. I always have said, I’m a big dreamer but a big doer. I like to dream. I have ideas, ideas, ideas. And so, I love it because I love to brainstorm and I love to brainstorm with kids and I love to connect to missions. The other thing that I’ve loved is learning about all the different non-profits that exist and all the different things that are being done in our community.

FRANK BLAKE: Amazing, isn’t it.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Mind blowing and I’m so proud that we have been able to support all of these non-profits. And then, in addition, I think what makes my heart happy is, of course, being a mom and my own child got to do a Kids Boost project.

FRANK BLAKE: Oh, great. Oh, terrific.

KRISTEN WITZEL: So that was pretty fun to see in a different angle but he did wonderful. What makes my heart happy is to continue to teach people that you can use those things. Whether you’re a child or an adult, whether it be your career or whether it be your volunteerism, or who and how you give, but I love the challenge of helping people find, make that list, what makes your heart happy, and then helping them come up with, okay, what can I do with these things that will make a difference or that will just make someone smile.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah. Kristen, for the people who are listening, who want to learn more about Kids Boost, or yourself or your projects, what’s the best way for them to do that?

KRISTEN WITZEL: Yes. KidsBoost.org is our website. It’s really fun to look at past and present Kids Boost projects so you can see the kids in action. The other great way is just through our social media outlets, Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, @kidsboost. It’s all the good stuff. It’s all the positive stories. It’s real kids doing real projects for real organizations and you can’t help but to be inspired by these kids and their big hearts and what they’re doing.

FRANK BLAKE: Thank you so much. I so appreciate your participating. What a crazy good turn you’ve done for others and then the crazy good turns for all of the kids that are working on their own crazy good turns.

KRISTEN WITZEL: Well, thank you so much for letting me share the story.

FRANK BLAKE: Yeah. Thank you.

 

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