On May 11, 2019, my oldest daughter graduated from college. On that day, during the commencement acts, I was not only watching her becoming an adult, but I was also listening to one of the most motivational speeches I have ever heard in my life.
You see, the guest speaker was a prior student who, after graduating, went ahead and created her own community magazine. She had no idea what she was doing. All she knew was that she wanted to run her own magazine and that nothing was going to stop her... not even her inexperience.
As the speaker, I always had my own dream of starting a newspaper... a newspaper published by my own nonprofit organization, but due to some situations in my life, my dream was taking a little longer than expected to become a reality. Here is a little on that...
My dream of starting the newspaper came with a lot of challenges, and one of them was being stationed overseas for three years due to my husband's active-duty military status. At that time, we were sent to Zimbabwe, Africa and my dreams of starting my beloved newspaper and charity foundation were put on hold.
After my husband decided to retire from the military, on May 2016, we came back to the United States and, after dealing with many health issues, I finally decided that it was time for me to make my dream of starting my own newspaper under a nonprofit organization come true... that was until one day, I received a rejection letter from The New York Times for an article I had sent to them for publishing. On that day, I stopped writing thinking that I didn't have what it takes to be a writer and became involved in a nonprofit program called Vet Voices to try to fill the void I had in my life. Believe me when I say that Vet Voices was a gift sent from heaven. They not only gave my life a different meaning but also made me realize that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
During my daughter's commencement ceremony back in May 2019, I had another gift sent from heaven... and this time it came in the form of a fellow journalist who, like me, had a dream. But, the difference between her and I was that she made hers become a reality, even when she had all the odds against her, and there I was, still wondering how to make mine come true. But, her speech made me realize that it was time to do it... that it was time for me to stop procrastinating... that it was time for me to stop allowing my fears to control my dreams.
On that day, I snapped out of my self-pity and decided that it was time... that the time for making my dream come true had arrived and that I needed to put my big girl's pants on and do it. And I did. Oh boy, I did.
The next day after that commencement ceremony, I took the first step and created the first page of my newspaper, which I tentatively called The Haines City Herald, but later on that night, I changed it to The Northeast Polk Gazette after my husband asked me to think bigger, which I did. UPDATE: The newspaper is now called "Compassionate Hearts Gazette." We decided to change the name to meet the needs of our mission. On that day, I not only created my newspaper, but I also founded and registered my own private charity foundation that I called PR Media, Inc. Update: The foundation's name is now the Compassionate Hearts UNITED Foundation, Inc.
My intentions with forming my nonprofit was to be able to provide support to other nonprofit organizations and charitable causes based on their individual missions and immediate needs, while at the same time, providing a monthly online newspaper that features nonprofit news from around my community. And here I am, a year later, presenting you my baby... The Compassionate Hearst UNITED Foundation, Inc... as well as our e-Gazette, the Compassionate Hearts Gazette.
I hope you guys give my foundation a chance to show you what hard work and dedication looks like. I promise you, I will not disappoint you. Thank you in advance for your support and consider donating to our cause so that we can continue helping others.
Marielys Camacho Reyes (M.C. Reyes)