More than four years ago, I started a nonprofit with one of my best friends. At the time, we didn’t have a clue what we we’re doing. We just had a passion, a plan and each other.
As the movement grew, we met a ton of amazing people that shared the same spirit as us. Luckily, we were blessed enough to have several of them join our cause and thanks to their time, talent and treasures, a dream became a reality.
Over the last two months, the organization has had to say good-bye to a pair of those founding pillars and I just want to take a moment to recognize each.
To start, our former marketing guru and board member Melissa Coon officially left at the end of May. She served for nearly 3 years, helping develop our daily marketing operations as well as short- and long-term strategies from scratch.
Melissa has one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever known. She is also one of the most driven people I’ve ever worked with. Whether it was family or friends, day job or nonprofit work, spin or workout classes, she always strived to create something good. I admire that hunger tremendously.
She also brought energy, forward thinking and a relentless positivity to the organization. Alas, Melissa will be moving in the coming months and joining her soon-to-be husband Nate in the next journey of their lives. God bless you both my friends and please don’t be strangers.
This second good-bye, I must admit, is tougher for me. I have known Brent Lobdell for more than 15 years. We became close friends in high school, best friends in college and brothers in adulthood. We’re part of a tight-knit group that would do anything for each other, and I say that through experience, not rhetoric.
For Lobby and I, we’ve always had similar ideals, comparable humor, parallel interests and obviously shared a wonderful name. On the flip side our personalities are quite different, as are our temperaments and taste in movies (he likes some terrible flicks).
But there is one thing that connects us more than anything else in this world — our hearts.
For a long time, I couldn’t explain why we started a nonprofit together. Let me rephrase that… I couldn’t explain why Lobby decided to start a nonprofit with me. I know that my faith in Christ and belief in creating love led me down this path, in part because I’m a sensi. I feel all the emotions and show them constantly, for better or worse.
Yet Lobby is the opposite. He guards his feelings, calculates the outcomes before acting with swift precision or sluggish indifference. Basically he’s a nerd with a hard-candy shell, which is why it shocked me when he agreed to start an organization with a guy who had no money, experience or connections. It was a pipe dream based in fantasy, an organization focused solely on creating love with nothing but love.
But that’s what makes Lobby special. Like all great M&M’s, his rough exterior covers up a soft inside. And so while he may not openly admit it, love is what drives Brent Lobdell.
He will hide it, he will close it off and he will forget it at times — like we all do — but love is what the makes the man tick.
It’s why he agreed to start a nonprofit out of nothing with me. It’s why he never gave up on that dream, even during the early years of indecision and missteps and then the more recent years of extreme growth and stress. It’s why he fed me, bought me beers, clothed me, covered my car payment and housed me when I couldn’t pay for anything. It’s why he dropped everything in his own life to help save mine as I battled PTSD, depression and anxiety. It’s why he never left me on the darkest nights of our 16 years of friendship, and never missed the brightest ones either. It’s why he’s moving to New York to be with the woman he adores.
I always had some folks question what Lobby did for this nonprofit simply because he didn’t do as much as I did. In fact, at times he didn’t do as much as others either.
However, what he always did was he took care of me, so I could take care of the nonprofit. By helping me survive and thrive, he helped the nonprofit survive and thrive. Lobby was never the face of this organization — he was always the heart.
So as we move forward in the coming days, months and years, we will never forget the man who made all this possible. Thank you Brent. My best friend, my brother, my co-founder, I wish you nothing but the best. May God bless you as much as you have blessed me.
Always love hermano… always love.