The More Things Change…1990 All Over Again…

This has been a remarkable week. The launch of the Rebecca Minkoff for Bravado Designs Limited Edition Nursing Tank to Benefit Baby Buggy has captured the hearts, minds and attention of so many. I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished with this ground-breaking initiative. It is not just about breastfeeding or at-risk mothers and children or community or connection –  it is about all of it and more. It is about weaving these parts together to create a new standard for care and a greater whole from the parts. I thought I would share some of what we accomplished – but there is time for that (spoiler alert – it is really impressive!!!).

What I am struck by is how often I have been asked about my philanthropic influences this week. And as I tell the stories – I can help but want to revisit the early days…

Today I want to share the story of one of my significant philanthropic influences, David Bindeman. I need to share this story because he is not here to see what I have accomplished or laugh with me about the way in which he influenced me (any one who knew David knew he neither suggested or asked  - he simply told me what to do) and moved me on my way on this most amazing path.

So here is the scene – it is 1990. I am a recent college graduate (all of you be quiet — and stop doing math on your fingers!!!) and I am sitting in David’s office. David Bindeman’s office. He is of one of Washington’s most influential men. I am there because David’s old friend Dick Simon (a dear family friend from Philadelphia) asked that David keep an eye on me in DC. I am also there because David is married to Carol who was a close childhood friend of my Aunt Susan.  I am in my first “real” job – I make close to nothing and live off of a combination of happy hour food and Tortilla Coast (which is owned by a friend of mine who is  more than happy to feed me in exchange for my bringing in the revolving cast of  characters in my life). I am busy with work, book groups, tennis games and cooking classes. I am dating a former USC football player who calls me Maestro (see nothing changes!!!). I am all about life in DC.  I am so happy – happy to finally be “in the real world” — honestly, I don’t remember too many details. But I do remember being pretty buzzed about my little red MX-6 and my business cards! So now you have the context.

David calls me into his office. He tells me simply – ” I am on the board of JFGH (Jewish Foundation for Group Homes),  they need some help and you are going to help me”.  Well, of course I want to help. I don’t have money  (understatement) and I let him know I would love to help but honestly I cannot afford the ticket to their gala and I don’t see that sort of thing in my near future. He looked at me (big – he was big on so many levels) and said – “you have friends — I want your friends”. He expained that the staff at JFGH were overlooking two key things – they had no plan for the next generation of support for the Foundation and they were not  fully considering the social needs of the residents of the group homes. He said. “you will launch Young Friends of JFGH”. This seems logical enough to me. And, I agree. Pretty simple. We begin by brining in my friends to be spend time hanging with the residents. We have game nights, dinners – we have fun!  Years pass (the football player is replaced by a nice Jewish boy!!!). The residents are engaged and respected. Relationships grow. The word and the mission spreads. It has a viral quality (that is not what we called it then). And we go to the gala (I remember my dress) – I think David may have even paid for a bunch of us. He wanted to prove his hypothesis correct  (and it was) — and we helped him make it so. The group remains in tact today.

Today I ran into Debbie Bindeman Kleinbord. We talk about her father. We talk about the initiative I launched this week. We laugh and we smile, rapt by the memory and how fortuitous it was to see each other on this day — really good stuff. And as I walk away, an amazing sense of “lucky timing” for having run into Debbie washes over me. I started thinking – really how is  this 2012 moment with Influencers, Baby Buggy, Bravado and Rebecca Minkoff any different from what David enlisted me to do so many years ago? There is a formula, a methodology, a familiarity – trademark Julia which had its roots way back when. And really it comes down to this from 1990:

I  was exposed to an issue.

I identified a strategy to do better – I kept it simple and from the heart (and I only agreed because it moved me).

I enlisted my friends and their collective power and voice to incite real change.

I engaged my community – to amplify what was possible.

And made it so.

So from there to here and whatever comes next –nothing feels better than when this works!

Thank you all for being part of this remarkable equation. And to David Bindeman for showing me how powerful what I had really was…