Three Reasons Why I Love Pencils of Promise

by Cassandra Hill
Author and Illustrator Cassandra Hill

Finding out what you love to do professionally can be a lifelong journey. Realizing what you love to do and doing it sooner rather than later, is the gift you give yourself. And for some, like Adam Braun, it’s a gift you give to others.

There are so many reasons why I love Pencils of Promise. I am an advocate for The Arts in Education. Growing up as an Air force “Military Brat,” I was exposed to awesome Arts in Education Entertainers that came to our schools overseas in Germany. They so impacted my life that I wanted to become just that, a performer. Fast forward to my life today, I was looking for schools overseas to connect with. I came across an article on POP. Through Pencils of Promise, I learned that many kids do not even have schools to attend, let alone have an Arts in Education Performer visit them. I was shocked and wanted to be part of the solution. Here are three reasons why I love Pencils of Promise.

Reason Number One: Adam Braun weaves a fascinating tale of self-discovery and philanthropy in his book, The Promise of a Pencil. I was already on board with his organization but by reading his book, it solidified my commitment to get involved and stay involved with Pencils of Promise. When the organization was in its infancy, I briefly spoke with him about the organization and donated some money to the cause. To look at what he has done with the organization since is amazing. To date, he has raised astronomical dollars and built over 500 schools in Africa, India and in Latin America.

Reason Number Two is the POP Gala: This year I attended the 2019 Pencils of Promise Gala. Every year, I say I’m going. And every Year, I miss it! This year, I woke up on a Monday morning and checked my Instagram @CassandraHillAuthorandSLPand up popped a post from POP.

Author and Illustrator Cassandra Hill with Pencils of Promise founder Adam BraunThis year’s event on Nov 4 would welcome Trevor Noah and Lil John as honorees. I made a split decision and purchases a ticket for about $1,200. I charged it. But hey, it was worth it. I was thrilled my money was going to help build a school and I can pay on it slowly. I jumped in my car and relied on my map app to get me to the event that was four hours away. The POP Gala was something I wanted to cover for my television show Unity and I vowed I would connect with individuals that will assist me in doing so for 2020. There, I had the pleasure of meeting Lil John and Adam Braun. And yes, although it may not have been politically correct, I asked Adam to autograph his book for me. “Excuse me, would it be too embarrassing to autograph your book for me?” “Of course not,” he smiled. I was delighted.

Author and Illustrator Cassandra Hill with Pencils of Promise FriendI then mingled with people I’d never met before but who possessed the same interest and were striving for common goal. I boldly thanked Lil John with a hug for building two schools for POP. If you ever get the opportunity, attend the event, and see for yourself how amazing it is to be a part of something so positive. And yes, at around 11pm, I got back in my car and drove the almost 4 hours back home fully satisfied and even energized for my next day back at work. Reason Number Three is the autonomy to create your own campaign for POP: You may not yet know what it is you like to do professionally. But you may have a delicious hobby that you spend countless hours enjoying. You can weave that hobby into a tapestry that yields unlimited fund raising for Pencils of Promise. And you can set it up on their website and tell all your friends, family, and acquaintances to support you for such a worthy cause. This gives you the opportunity to awaken your entrepreneurial spirit and problem solve your way through social media to get your message of philanthropy to the masses. So, you’d like to know what my campaign is? Clearly, I’m assuming, but I’ll indulge you. #ChangeTheWorldShyann is a theatrical performance of my children’s book It’s Your Birthday Shyann! for which I am the author and illustrator. Go to my Pencils of Promise Fund Raising Page and give a donation of any size. Help me build schools for children in Africa. You’ll be glad you did. Hold a virtual birthday party and invite me as your guest performer. Have children raise funds and donate on my fundraising page. Here is my link:

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