Making a Powerful Positive Impact
We just had to share this compelling story with you. It’s about our friend Margaret Trost and her dream to make a difference for children in Haiti. She turned the dream into reality with her “What If ” Foundation with the help of a stable income and time freedom provided by her successful Shaklee business.
The following interview was published by Shaklee Corporation in the “Power of Shaklee” on June 13, 2013
POWER: Margaret, why did you join Shaklee?
MT: I joined because I wanted to be able to stay home with my baby (who is now 20 years old!) so I was looking for a way to earn income and make a difference in the lives of others at the same time. Shaklee was a great match for my values. I fell in love with the products and business opportunity and my business grew over time.
POWER: We’ve been talking to people about the residual power that their Shaklee Businesses have made in their lives and the lives of others. You have been able to do something pretty cool thanks to your Shaklee business with the foundation you created. Can you tell us a little about it?
MT: In January 2000, I visited Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the first time. While there, I volunteered at a hospice founded by Mother Teresa. I was inspired by the faith and dedication of the sisters, but overwhelmed by the suffering I saw throughout the city, especially among children.
During my visit, Father Gerard Jean-Juste, a Haitian priest who served the Ti Plas Kazo neighborhood on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, spoke about life in Haiti and shared his vision for a food program that would feed the children in his community. When I returned to California a few days later, I could not get Fr. Jean-Juste’s vision out of my mind. I thought: “What if there was a way to help his vision become a reality?”
I shared my experience in Haiti with family and friends and seed money began to arrive. Within three months the first meal was served in Port-au-Prince. Determined to keep the meal program going, I created the What If? Foundation and started to fundraise.
POWER: What kind of impact have you been able to have with your foundation so far?
MT: At first, 500 girls and boys received one nutritious meal every Sunday. A second meal was added in 2004 and the program grew over the years to five days a week. In the critical months after the January 2010 earthquake, our Haitian partners served as many as 15,000 meals per week to children and some adults. The food program now provides an average of 6,000 meals per week (1,200 each weekday). In addition, the What If? Foundation provides 200 school scholarships, an after-school program for 240 youth, and a summer camp for 550 children. The What If? Foundation is the only source of funding for these programs, which are so desperately needed.
POWER: How has your Shaklee Business helped you in the work you’re doing in Haiti?
MT: My Shaklee business has provided wonderful financial stability and time freedom that have helped make it possible for me to devote the last 13 years of my life to creating and developing the What If? Foundation. And many of the things I learned when growing my Shaklee business have helped me with the growth of the What If? Foundation. I’m grateful to Dr. Shaklee and his thoughtsmanship teachings. I’m grateful to all the Home Office team and Field team leaders who taught me about leadership, vision, persistence, patience, and the power of a team.
Doctor of Humane Letters from USF
POWER: You were recently recognized for your work with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from USF and served as the commencement speaker for their graduate school of management. What are some of the things you shared with USF graduates that you would also share with the Shaklee Field?
MT: I encouraged the business graduate students to step into their future with courage and compassion, to make a difference in the world, to be ethical leaders, to lead with their hearts – themes that are naturally woven into a Shaklee business. I also shared with them two Haitian sayings that have really inspired me over the years. The first is “Pitipitina rive”, which means “little by little we will arrive.” It encourages us to take action and to value small steps towards a goal. Sometimes goals seem so far away. My Haitian friends have taught me that the key is to keep taking steps, even if they seem tiny. They matter. They add up. In Shaklee, every day we have the opportunity to contribute towards the goal of creating healthier lives. Every business, regardless of size is valuable. The second Haitian saying is “Men anpilchay pa lou”, which means “many hands make the load lighter.” This reminds us of the power of the team and of what can be accomplished when we work together. Through our personal business groups and as part of the wider Shaklee family, we are a powerful force for change.
To learn more about the What If? Foundation and their work in Haiti, visit their web site at whatiffoundation.org