INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to purpose-driven organizations and passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
The Matthew Shepard Foundation works every day to help erase hate in every corner of the country in honor of Matt Shepard, who was brutally beaten and left on a fence to die outside of Laramie, Wyoming in 1998 – simply for being gay.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
The Matthew Shepard Foundation’s longstanding mission is to erase hate by replacing it with understanding, compassion and acceptance. Through local, regional and national outreach, we empower individuals to find their voice to create change and challenge communities to identify and address hate that lives within their schools, neighborhoods and homes.
Our work is an extension of Matt’s passion to foster a more caring and just world. We share his story and embody his vigor for civil rights to change the hearts and minds of others to accept everyone as they are.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
It’s often hard to measure results in the typical way that other businesses do. We are in the business of changing hearts and minds, which doesn’t necessarily offer a direct ROI. But we know that the work we are doing is helpful when we fill rooms and auditoriums of schools or ERGs or bars when we come to speak. We know that making sure youth know who Matt was – not just as a tragic historical figure, but a real person with real wishes and dreams – and to see their responses, we are making a huge impact.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Matthew Shepard. The 49 killed at Pulse. The numerous transgender women of color who are murdered every year. The kid with a turban who gets called names walking down the street. The bisexual girl in the middle of the country who feels misunderstood. The transgender boy who is considering suicide. These are the people we are working for.
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
The big dream we have is to go out of business! It feels like we are further away from that than ever at this point, but every morning when we wake up and come to the office, we are determined to make an impact on lives around the country and even the world.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
Money always helps! And if people can’t donate, we always appreciate some social media love. Sharing our announcements or stories or news helps spread the word.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
It differs. Under Obama, we felt like we were on offense with an all-star team. We were invited everywhere. Under Trump and his administration, we have to make ourselves more known. We’re on defense now – trying to protect the advances we have made.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Keep going. It is so easy to become disheartened when the impact you see begins to dwindle. But every minute that you work towards erasing hate counts. To change one person’s mind is a huge feat!
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Keep spreading the word: love conquers all. We look forward to working with anyone who believes this like we do. Hate is a learned concept, which means it can be unlearned.
Orapin Marketing + Public Relations serves those who serve others. We help purpose-driven companies and nonprofits tell their stories and get the attention they deserve for the impact they make by securing press coverage, strategic partnerships, and thought leadership opportunities.