Paul Hastings Creates Future Leaders One Birthday Wish at a Time
Posted May 04, 2012 by Alejandro De La Cruz
Over the last 26 years, Paul Hastings has produced a new generation of leaders. He is a volunteer and chairman of Youth Rally — a week long summer camp providing mentoring and support services for kids with Crohn’s disease, Colitis, Vader’s Syndrome, and a variety of other autoimmune disorders. Throughout the week, camp attendees from 12 to 17 find new friends, go on a one day trip to an amusement park or the beach, and learn valuable quality of life lessons through confidence building workshops. It’s a place to hang with people with similar stories.
Paul has a special connection to the kids who participate in Youth Rally. “When I was 13-years-old I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and I didn’t have a summer camp, so I didn’t have a chance to be around the people who had the same thing that I had.” As the story goes, he learned of the summer camp many moons ago after graduating from pharmaceutical school and met a person at a conference who worked with the United Ostemy Association, which ran the rally at the time. After a brief chat, Paul was hooked. “I knew immediately I wanted to volunteer.”
Youth Rally is an experience for young adults to come together and learn from each other. The day-to-day activities consist of working sessions, mentoring, counseling, and confidence building through community. Eight years ago the UOA went bankrupt, and the fate of the camp was uncertain. Paul, who had been a volunteer with Youth Rally since 1986, was presented with a huge task. “The volunteers at Youth Rally basically came to me and said, ‘Paul we can take this on, but we need you to help us run the nonprofit because we have no idea how to do it.’” Paul put up his own money, but hoped people would donate to keep things going. To his surprise, the community came together and raised the money he had put in out of pocket, a whopping $150K.
Fundraising for Youth Rally became Paul’s top priority and each of the last four years he has logged onto Causes.com and created a Birthday Wish to raise money for the kids. His process is simple: he puts the Wish up on his Facebook page, emails his large network of friends, family, colleagues, camp attendees, and updates them regularly: not once or twice a week, but daily. Paul raised somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 in his first year. The fourth year brought the biggest total sum of all: more than $25,000 in donations. Paul’s advice to you and your Birthday Wish? “You gotta get out there and keep people updated about your Wish!”
Youth Rally served more than 150 kids from around the world in 2011. In Paul’s eyes, these campers are all future leaders. “You inspire a group of people to [help] each other and they go back to their respective homes with a huge boost of self confidence, [and] their self confidence translates into relaying that same message to others. A lot of our campers become volunteers and do other things to help other people; the impact on society is enormous.”
This summer promises to be another banner year for the group and Paul hopes to dedicate another birthday, January 29th, next year. At the end of the day, one wish stands out above all: “That [Youth Rally] will always be there.”
Do you have your own story about a memorable summer camp or about a mentor/counselor who shaped your life? The comments section is all yours.