What’s worse than getting by on one meal a day? Having to share that meal with your only companion; the one that only you acknowledge as significant. This is the breakdown Brian Daly became fully aware of and decided to create a plan for transformational impact. Through Landmark’s distinctions and teamwork, his concern has translated into an initiative he titled BONE APPETIT. BONE APPETIT provides thousands of pounds of food to the “furry” companions of the elderly population in Los Angeles who depend on the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels program for their nourishment.
During our conversation, Brian shared how although St. Vincent Meals on Wheels is one of the largest privately funded programs providing meals in the United States, they had not been able to gain traction in providing adequate food to the four-legged companions of these homebound seniors. The carefully designed meals that should have provided adequate nourishment to the recipients were not fully effective. The seniors were sharing their meals with their pets so their companions would not go hungry. The impact is higher incidences of additional care to the malnourished seniors. The intended benefits of St. Vincent Meals on Wheels were diminished significantly while the food being shared was not providing the correct nutrients for the senior or their pets. A veritable lose-lose situation. Brian tells how through the Team, Management, and Leadership Program (TMLP) he has been able to effectively provide where government and NGO’s have been ineffective.
One Man + One Idea + TMLP = Impact
What is your Game in the World?
There are impoverished seniors in Los Angeles that receive their nourishment through St. Vincent Meals on Wheels and they have cats and dogs. And what I found was that many of them were sharing their meals with their pets. So I set out to create a program to provide food for pets as well.
What are the possibilities for this Game?
Well, the greatest possibilities through BONE APPETIT are that tummies are being filled and proper nourishment is happening for impoverished seniors and their animals. We know from the research that St. Vincent Meals on Wheels has done is that people who receive proper nourishment have improved chances of healthy living that is increased by about 83% versus people who don’t eat properly everyday. Those who don’t have adequate nourishment are considerably more susceptible to illness than those that are eating properly.
What are some of the breakdowns that you have had and how have you overcome them?
The stories were so compelling to me that I thought they would resonate with everybody I knew. I believed that everybody would want to raise their hands and help out; that really wasn’t the case at all. So what I found was that maybe 5% of the people in my world were truly willing to participate. And that was probably due to my expectation first and foremost. Then there was my own personal breakdown of just having “life” come along and occupy me, so I had to maintain my integrity by really focusing my attention on my Game; I kept dropping the ball, you might say. When I wasn’t achieving what I had hoped, I thought “Why the hell am I doing this? Nobody really cares about this but me.” So that kind of “morass thinking” got in the way. People in my world who had agreed to help didn’t follow through. So there was a lot of hope on my part with expectations that people were going to keep their word. Right? I would say about 10 people gave their word to support my Game and really go for this service and at the end of the day, there were about 3 people that really did.
Is there anything about this program that you want to make more visible?
Yes, before I started this project, I just figured with Medicare, and this and that and the other, that seniors were just taken care of; it really isn’t like that. There are a lot of people in this world who are alone, who have no one, who have no money, and who don’t have enough to eat. And it is not only heart-breaking, it is a bit shocking to me! If you think of a country like, let’s say Mexico, because of the poverty there, people live in family communities. Whereas here, we are all in our own little worlds in our developed country, we have our own apartments and our own homes. As a result of that, there’s a lot of “alone-ness” among elderly people. There is a big portion of the population that is forgotten, whether they have pets or not. I met with St. Vincent Meals on Wheels yesterday and they were talking to me about the different communities they have yet to reach, like the Russian-speaking community, the LGBT community, and the Chinese community. They know the need exists in all of them and they want to find as many people as they can because their goal is that no one goes to bed hungry. So that is what I find so staggering—it’s 2014 in Los Angeles, California and so many people go to bed hungry…
What do you want to be acknowledged for?
St. Vincent Meals on Wheels had tried many times to put together a food for pets program and the most they had been able to generate was $800 in donations. And now BONE APPETIT has collected $21,000! So obviously I made a difference. In addition, we are getting food from Centinela Feed at cost; also Petsmart made a donation separately of $4,000 (they also want to provide dog food and cat food at cost.)
What is the outcome you are generating for your Game in the World?
The outcome is that Variety Magazine has done a story on me; that came out of left field, I didn’t expect that and since then, I have been contacted by a company called The American Society on Aging that wants to interview me as well for some of their publications. So the word is out! In an ideal world, what I would like, is for the people that receive assistance from Meals on Wheels in every city in America to be nourished properly.
What is the NEW way of seeing yourself while playing in your Game in the World?
The new way is that I don’t get defeated by the GAP,I don’t get defeated by the Breakdowns, where in the past I would have. And I almost did give up. But using the distinctions I have acquired in SELP and TMLP, I picked myself up and dusted myself off and continued on.
How have you triumphed over your past?
How I triumphed over my past is by (pause) I am moving the emotions out of the way by making this all a game and just sticking to my goal. I am in the Team Management and Leadership Program, so the distinction of creating a game is having a goal and unfolding it, so that I have mamageable Milestones to reach; this game allows me to break a big task down into manageable units. And so that is how I am applying the distinctions of Team towards this game, so instead of feeling defeated because I didn’t complete one thing, I know that I can pick it back up and keep going in the same direction and know that there will be breakdowns and there will be Gaps along the way. I can recalibrate if I need to and get back on-track. A lot of my outreach was through social media, if you post something on Facebook and you think you are going to get action you are sadly mistaken. People need a deeper level of “relatedness” to want to participate versus just reading a posting on Facebook. So,I re-calibrated and instead of reaching everybody through a posting, I made my requests individually to each person I knew through Facebook Instant Message. Initially I thought, I posted this on Facebook and everybody is going to see this and sign up and it’s going to be wonderful. And then it dawned on me, I see these postings all the time and although I may “like” them, liking them is not really a “call to action.” But when someone says to me through Instant Messenger, “Hey, Brian, here is something I am interested in and would you take a look at this, and participate if you like,” then I am much more compelled to do so. The other thing that I wanted to say is that, because of Landmark, I was committed to this, but not attached, and I learned where I was attached. You know, I had attachments with BONE APPETIT which I didn’t even realize. I shifted away from those attachments and then that opened up the space for me to just be committed and let it work out the way it worked out. And it was through that commitment that I was able to achieve my goals.
What has been your experience in being of service to others?
What has happened as a result of this program is that I have been able to “dance in the conversation” with the folks at St. Vincent’s Meals on Wheels and as a result I am able to help them with some of their other programs where they have run into blocks or barriers. So, for example, yesterday they asked me if I could help them with their fresh fruit program because the cost of fresh fruit has gone up considerably. They buy it already cut up because it costs them less to buy it cut than it does to hire people to cut and pay workman’s comp. It went from 47 cents per pound to 64 cents overnight. So they wanted to do a “drive” to fund that gap, right? And I said I would love to create some teams in the Donor world; people who want to utilize social media to engage their world and enroll them in joining us to address that need. So the distinction that came about there was the “dancing in the conversation.” In other words, instead of me have a firm “agenda” for yesterday’s meeting that was solely about pets, we danced in the conversation and came up with solutions based on my communications with them for another need that they have. As a result, they have asked me to make a presentation at a fundraiser on the 27th to enroll and register people in creating teams to go out to the world and enroll people in supporting St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
What structure did you have in place for your Game Leaders and what were their dreams?
I asked each of the leaders to go out and raise a thousand dollars; some said that they would ask each of the people they asked to raise $500. Those leaders that participated all together raised about $5000. They had expectations like I did, that it would be easy to get people to donate and it wasn’t at all. But just the same they went out, they were committed, and they kept talking to people. One key element that we offered donors was the opportunity to make a $10 text donation instantly from their cell phones. Whenever these folks were in a social setting, they would tell people about BONE APPETIT and our goals; then ask everybody in the crowd to pull out their smart phones and text the word “Meals” to 22022 and get that $10 donation. And the truth is that most of our donations were in the $10 region. The good news is that $10 buys enough cat food for a cat for a month! And people really felt empowered that their donation could make that much of a difference
To date BONE APPETIT has delivered over 4,000 lbs. of pet food to 278 homes. The existential expansion comes from supporters simply raising their hands to donate their time and resources to the cause. In Los Angeles, a photographer joined forces with “The Beauty Bus,” an organization of hair stylists and makeup artists from the entertainment industry, to photograph these people with their beloved pets to immortalize their incredible bond and friendship in photos – something these people would normally never get to experience. Also a Veterinarian has offered to proved basic, easily accessible veterinary services for the owners.
When you think about it, these people are homebound and in many cases, do not see other people except for those that deliver their food to their front door. Their only companions are their little furry friends. We like to think that we are brightening their lives by making sure that everyone, including their pet, is healthy. Through endless support we can gather a team of people with different skills and contributions and the possibilities for improving these people’s lives are truly endless.
Author and Interviewer: W.J. “Bill” Beatty