Go Inspire Go Impact

We all have the power to give. When you discover your power (talents, resources and network) it’s a most gratifying feeling. It’s authentic, natural and easy. That feeling becomes magical and joyful when you share.

When I created a YouTube channel that inspires people to use their power to help others, my goal was to inspire five people and do something to help others in my community. A few hundred thousand people watched and many reached out to help. The channel turned into GoInspireGo.com.

Wow, an unexpected gift, as I have been given the gift of inspiring storytelling. I’m not good at math, but I discovered this equation:


Ripples of change start with the drop of an idea. Below are some stories of movements that started from videos dropped onto GIG’s site and their impact.

Join us. As Jorge Munoz, a real life Angel in Queens, N.Y., said, “You change the life of one, that’s enough.”

Everything counts! Spend time reading to kids. Bake cookies and cakes for a good cause. Spread cheer by smiling to a stranger.

At GIG we believe that everyone has power and a platform. What’s your GIG? And how will you use your power?

Six-Year-Old Nico Castro Brings Halloween to Sick Friends

PhotoSpark: Nico Castro, suffering from brain cancer, wanted to bring the Halloween spirit to his sick friends in the hospital.

Story: Six-year-old Nico Castro, from San Bruno, Calif., isn’t letting his battle with brain cancer haunt his spirit of giving on Halloween. Thanks to a break in chemotherapy treatment, he went trick-or-treating and jumping over jack-o’-lanterns. Nico wanted to share this joy, by bring Halloween to his sick friends in the hospital – all 50 of them. His parents Raul and Marlene couldn’t afford to buy additional costumes, but the thought a costume drive would do the trick for new treats. GIG created this video to inspire the giving spirit in our viewers. Video  | Full story

Ripples: After GIG posted part one of Nico’s inspiring story and costume drive, we helped him quadruple his goal. People from across America donated about 200+ costumes and $1,500 for goodie bags.

We also made calls to local businesses, which were inspired to contribute:
1. Sparky’s Balloons
2. Green Apple Books
3. Daydreams and Nightmares

Several multimedia platforms, NBC Nightly News and NBC Bay Area, were inspired to share Nico’s story.

Watch PART TWO: Video  | Full story

8-Year-Old Takes a Stand Against Slavery with Lemonade Stand 2.0

PhotoSpark: Vivienne “Vivie” Harr of Fairfax, Calif., was inspired to take a stand against slavery by raising money to help emancipate modern-day slaves. She was inspired by viewing an installation on slavery by Lisa Kristine, a photographer who captured these authentic, haunting, gut-wrenching snapshots of modern-day slaves around the world. Vivie was particularly moved by a picture of two Nepalese children carrying huge rocks on their backs.

Story: Vivie’s only business experience was selling lemonade. With her family’s help, she vowed to set up a lemonade stand every day until the proceeds could free 500 slaves. The cost? $150,000. The project went viral after Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times op-ed columnist, wrote about it. All of the proceeds go to NOT FOR SALE, a non-profit organization that re-abolishes slavery around the world. Won’t you join her and make a stand? Video  | Full story

Ripples: GIG made a stand to help Vivie spread her mission. Success was sweet when our video went viral. Vivie reached her goal of $150,000 in 173 days. She has more than 100k social media followers. Now this young entrepreneur is bottling her lemonade and selling it in stores.

GIG Spark: Sparking Compassion and Inspiring Service in Youth

PhotoSpark: A San Rafael, Calif., mother wants to inspire her kids to volunteer and be of service to others.

“As a mom of three young boys, my hope is to raise good kids who are kind to one another. I struggled to find ways to teach these lessons. Then I met Toan Lam, Inspirator at GoInspireGo. He gave me the spark to make good on my promises. He inspired me to start the Community Heroes Club. Kids are excitedly helping local causes.” – Kala Shah

Story: Toan Lam, Founder of Go Inspire Go (GIG) and Kala Shah, mother of three boys, spoke to more than 500 kids at Sun Valley Elementary School in San Rafael, Calif. They promoted the message that “You can use your power to be a Community Hero.” Students will create GIG Spark videos of their deeds. Check out the presentation here: Video  | Full story

Ripples: After her presentation, Shah created a GIG Community Heroes club.

More than 40 students meet on Mondays during their lunch hour. They brainstorm problems in their communities and think about how they can be the solution, then take action and film it to inspire others.

Parents report that their child is excited about getting civically involved and that GIG Spark is an easy, accessible way to start.

Actions so far:

* Students collected 50 coats to date during a drive to benefit Canal Alliance, a local community organization serving low-income, Spanish-speaking immigrants through tools and resources to achieve self-sufficiency.

* Parent volunteers will meet with staff and board members to discuss a partnership, such as regular community meetings, joint projects, and fundraising for the school.

* Discussions are scheduled about creating dedicated finding for the local Marin Community Clinic to help pay for medicine for low-income patients.

From New York Projects to Wall St. Banker / Lawyer to BAYCAT CEO

PhotoSpark: Feel inspired as you learn about Villy Wong, who went from working in a sweatshop and living in the New York projects to being a Wall Street banker and lawyer. However, after achieving her dreams, she knew the button-down world wasn’t her calling.

After pursuing the paycheck, Villy now pursues her passion work. She now pursues what brings her joy, as the top “Cat” of BAYCAT, a San Francisco-based nonprofit social enterprise that educates, inspires and employs underserved youth in the digital media arts. Video  | Full story

Story: Villy’s story resonates with everyone who grew up in a bad neighborhood and those who compassionately understand these beginnings…and just like many of us, learn about her mother, who inspired BAYCAT, but felt like her life story was irrelevant.

Find out what the BAYCAT kids did after their studio was burglarized during the summer of 2012, when thieves stole more than $50,000 worth of laptops.

Ripples: GIG’s video spread the word via storytelling, several multimedia platforms and social media, resulting in helping BAYCAT surpass their $50,000 goal to replace all stolen laptops. The effort also encouraged hard teamwork ethic and compassion among BAYCAT youth.

LGBT Bullying and Suicide: It Does Get Better

PhotoSpark: Dr. Ron Holt, a San Francisco psychiatrist, was abused by his father for being gay. Among many harsh words and name calling, his father told him he wouldn’t amount to anything in life. This was only fuel for Dr. Holt’s passion – to use his power for good and tolerance. Video

Story: Dr. Ron Holt volunteers his time, energy and resources traveling around the world to inspire and educate students and professionals about the science behind sexuality.

Ripples: Dr. Holt says, “It’s hard to count the ripples from this story.” Many students privately reached out to Dr. Holt to share their own stories of being bullied and how his personal message helped thwart suicide and inspired them to live their truth. More than 24 youth personally contacted Dr. Holt to share their own coming out story.

The GIG video has reached thousands of youth globally. They show how mentoring, education, and compassion can change how one can relate to, and accept, their own sexuality. Educational staff viewed the video and shared with their classes to help countless others who still struggle to be open about their sexuality.

The message has a powerful impact on those youth who were struggling with their LGBT sexuality. Ostracized youth say they now feel more comfortable coming out about their sexuality after viewing the video.

Since the video was released, Dr. Holt has spoken to dozens of other educational audiences across the country about LGBT issues, bullying, and suicide prevention.

Dr. Holt received the Wayne State College Alumni Achievement Award for community service in LGBT education: Video  | Full story

Inspirational Movement Sends 32 Kids to School in Haiti

PhotoSpark: Julian Cohen, a high school junior from Jersey City, N.J., saw an article in his local newspaper about a reverend who wanted to build a high school in Grande Saline, Haiti, following the devastating earthquake in 2010. Cohen was sad that there was no high school in Grande Saline and was inspired to make a video to engage action. His video made a difference. Video

Story: Cohen created a video and asked if he could post it on GIG’s website to highlight Rev. Lemaire Alerte, a New Jersey reverend who wanted to build a high school in his hometown of Grand Saline, Haiti.

Ripples: Willow Glen Middle School and High School band students in San Jose, Calif., saw the story. They were inspired to help. Kenny Williams, the band teacher said, “Like the video says, what can YOU do?” “Well, we love music,” said the students.

The students orchestrated a winter benefit concert that raised $1,643.85.

When Rev. Alerte received the check, Mahanaim High School was already built. However, out of the 177 kids who enrolled in Mahanaim High School, only 96 were able to attend. It costs $85 a year for tuition, books, a uniform and shoes.

The money was enough to send 18 students to school. Watch their inspiring winter benefit concert: Video  | Full story

~The movement started by Cohen’s video about Rev. Alerte and the action of William’s band class resonated with Go Inspire Go’s Chief Inspirator Toan Lam’s students at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. They put the multimedia and storytelling skills Lam taught them into action and created this Public Service Announcement as a fundraiser: Video | Full story

Now more than 32 students will get a full year’s education. We can only imagine how this will impact the kids who are giving and receiving.

School Bus Driver by Day, Angel in Queens by Night: Jorge Munoz

Photo Spark: Jorge Munoz is a school bus driver by day, but at night, he’s known as the Angel in Queens, N.Y. His inspiration is “God and my Mom. They teach me to share. As long as I have food and a place to live, I will help.”

Story: Every single night since 2004, Munoz has been giving out home cooked meals to more than 150 people at under the subway stop on the corner of Roosevelt Ave. and 73rd St. in Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y.

He spends more than half of his $700-a-week salary to buy groceries, cook and package the food and drinks.

Check out this Angel in Action: Video  | Full story

~Ripples: This video quickly became viral in a couple of weeks. TV, radio and bloggers spread the word, including Good Morning America (ABC News’ Chris Cuomo saw a tweet and reached out to GIG to share the story), Telemundo, Univision, Huffington Post and several local TV stations across the US.

~Tens of thousands of people around the world were inspired, many emailed Munoz and GIG to see how they could help:

Monetary donations, supplies, food and services flooded in.

Munoz said he only has to spend about $200 a month now, instead of more than $300 each week to continue his operation.

~The Spungens, a family near Chicago, Ill., were inspired and wanted to give Munoz a refrigerator and stove. They contacted Lam and flew out to Queens to surprise Munoz.

Since GIG is about the small things that ripple out to meaningful changes, we contacted Lens Harris Appliances, a local business to purchase the refrigerator and stove. The owners of Len Harris were inspired and sent most of their crew out to surprise Munoz. They threw in free delivery, set up and recycled the old appliances and gave Munoz a microwave.

WARNING: Grab a tissue before watching this follow up video: Video  | Full story

Sacramento’s Tent City Sparks Spirit of Compassion

Photo Spark: Tent City Story inspires a giving movement at a Sacramento high school.

Story: Lam spent the day getting to know several families at the Tent City in Sacramento, Calif. At the height of the economic woes, many middle class families were just a paycheck away from living on the streets. GIG spent the day with several homeless families who set up a tent encampment, “Tent City,” along the American River. Even though the homeless people didn’t have much, they shared blankets, bottled water and extra tents with other families.

Take a look: Video

Lam was surprised to witness the relentless human spirit in many of the people living in the encampments – and that before food, water or anything else, many said they craved one thing: compassion for the people.


~ Erika Duran, a teacher at Kennedy High School in Sacramento, and her students were inspired after seeing the video on their Facebook feed. They immediately started a movement of their own to help the homeless. Students made presentations to other classes about the growing epidemic of homelessness and shared the GIG story. They asked students to bring basics: food, water, blankets and first aid kits to their classroom. Other students were moved by the presentation and video. This resulted in a truck full of supplies that were delivered to the Tent City families via the charity Loaves and Fishes.

Erika and her students created this video about their civic engagement: Video

~The local ABC and Fox affiliates shared the story.

~ A dentist reached out to offer free dental care to some tent city families.

Kindergartener Helps Feed More Than 150,000

Photo Spark: Five-year-old Phoebe Russell (the youngest philanthropist you may ever meet) saw hungry homeless people on the way to kindergarten. “Why do they look so dirty and sad?” she asked her Mom. Her Mom explained that not everyone has food and shelter. She was baffled that there are people in her community who don’t have food to eat. Phoebe asked her teacher Kathleen Albert, “Who helps homeless hungry people?” Ms. Albert said, “The San Francisco Food Bank.”

Story: Phoebe was determined to raise $1,000 to help the food bank feed hungry people by collecting aluminum cans. Sometimes she would go to the grocery store and recycle cans for extra change. She knew she could get five cents per can. You’ll be amazed by how much she raised – and how much we helped her multiply her movement! Watch how she inspired a movement: Video

In two months, Phoebe raised $3,736.30 – nearly four times her goal! This enabled the Food Bank to give 18,000 meals.

Ripples: GIG created a video about Phoebe’s amazing deed and asked the community to donate to the food bank in Phoebe’s name. In a few months, the video went viral (More than 30,000 views) and helped Phoebe multiply her amount to $20,202! According to the S.F. Food Bank, that’s more than 80,000 meals. Watch the delivery here: Video  | Full story

It gets better! I received an email from a friend, asking him to submit her video to Tyson Chicken’s “Feed the Hungry” contest. The company contacted GIG and told us they were so moved by Phoebe and the video, they gave her a special grand jury prize – they donated 15 tons of chicken – raw protein – in Phoebe’s name.

That’s more than 150,000 meals served in her local community.

~And there’s more inspiring ripples. The next year, Phoebe and her grown up 6-year-old self continued to inspire. The new wave of students at her former Kindergarten class saw Phoebe’s picture with her cans. Three students replicated her project with a “Yes You Can” campaign. They raised more than $5,300. Video  | Full story

~First Lady Michelle Obama wrote a personal letter and sent it to Phoebe to congratulate her.

Phoebe continues to inspire her classmates to volunteer at the S.F. Food Bank.

Doctor Gives Gift of Health Care

Photo Spark: During her medical school residency, Dr. Aumatma Shah of Oakland, Calif., felt bad when she had to turn away patients who couldn’t pay for health care. She knew there had to be a solution.

Story: Amidst the ongoing health care debate in America, Dr. Shah has a simple solution: just give it away.

“We give, no strings attached,” said Dr. Aumatma Shah with a big smile. Dr. Shah co-founded Karma Clinic in Oakland in April 2009. She decided to volunteer her services full-time about four months ago and doesn’t get paid a single penny. Patients don’t have to pay for her services. She gives the gift of health care.

Why would anyone do such a thing, especially when naturopathic doctors can charge $50-$300 an hour? GIG made an appointment with Dr. Shah to find out what inspired her to gift health care, how she sustains the clinic and how she pays her bills without a paycheck or hidden savings. Video  | Full story

~Ripples: Dr. Shah doesn’t charge her clients a single penny for her services. She’s able to sustain herself thanks to the generous anonymous donations from patients and the community. She noticed additional donations flowing in after we uploaded the video. The owner of a local organic grocery store also gave her free groceries for several months.

Spreading the Simple Power of a Smile

Photo Spark: Claire Lemmel noticed that people just aren’t making eye contact and smiling enough!

Story: “I don’t know what I can do to help others” is a response we at GIG often hear when people have been inspired by GIG stories but do not understand their individual power.

For everyone who has ever doubted his or her ability to make a positive impact, no matter what your socioeconomic background, gender or creed may be, just watch this video. Meet Claire Lemmel, who had a photographer blow up a picture of her beautiful smile. Several times a week, you can spot her walking around different San Francisco neighborhoods, holding her smile and making eye contact with strangers. Her goal is to inspire smiling. Claire is surely someone who instantly puts a smile on your face and who has discovered the true meaning of joy. Video  | Full story

Ripples: Countless people emailing to tell us that her smiles are contagious. If you’re still trying to think about what your power is – what you’re passionate about – just smile at strangers in the meantime! Just this simple act could cause a smile.