I’m always talking about changing the world in 15 minutes a week. It’s kind of my thing, right? “Change the World” written on my palm, always rockin’ the “One Love” beanie . . . you may think it’s just my hook to get people interested. And you’d be right.
But if you think it’s only something nice to say, or just a punchy tagline, take a look at what we’ve been able to accomplish with such a simple idea. It’s real, guys. And it changes lives.
I began this project in April 2009 with the goal of demonstrating that love actually is all around us, and that the small things do matter – in fact, sometimes they truly are the most important things.
Now, just two years later, ItStartsWith.Us has 5,000 participating members in 100 countries, not including the two spin-off projects. Love Bomb has 2,000 members. And the brand-new Love Drop already has 1,000 members. Every one of these people spend just a tiny amount of time, effort, or money to make a positive impact on the lives of the people around them. But consistent actions like these, done over time, and especially as part of a larger team with a common goal, can produce some pretty amazing results. I’d like to share some of them with you below.
I’d also like to thank you all once again for allowing me to lead this tremendous group of people who care. As a direct result of your efforts, we’ve had millions of people touched by love, with many of them inspired to do the same for others. Thousands of individuals have been changed forever by your actions. And along the way, even if you didn’t know about it, you have quite literally saved dozens of lives. And those are just the ones I know about. I’m sure there are more.
This team doesn’t get a lot of publicity, and there’s never much fanfare, which was how it was envisioned right from the beginning. We just quietly go about the business of changing the world.
Here’s what we do, as written by . . . you.
[visit site to join]
(2010 Year in Review coming soon!)
“I enjoy being a part of the ItStartsWith.Us team because of the fantastic people who make up the group. Speaking to ItStartsWith.Us members, you’ll notice their unfailing love for others. Diversity, friendship, and coming together for common good are all values maintained by members. They respond to need not only in their family and friends but also in strangers. They go the extra mile to write words of encouragement to those who are suffering far away from them and also within the group. And they show this kindess all in a quiet manner, without seeking great recognition. In this collection of inspiring leaders, you’ll find an accepting community who will aid you in your journey to help others.”
“In my signature box, on my art room wall, occasionally as a screen saver, and quite possibly a soon to be tattoo, you will see a quote by Martin Buber that motivates me to be thoughtful and considerate in my day to day.
Buber’s quote reads, “I think no human being can give more than this. Making life possible for the other, if only for a moment” and for me It Starts With Us works just as this quote does.
ISWU is a reminder to put into practice the love and compassion I want to live. It is a 15 minute task that bleeds into the whole week and inspires me to go beyond those 15 minutes. I have my ugly moments, I have said and done things I am not proud of and need to work at keeping my heart open and compassion flowing. It Starts With Us is a genius way to remind ourselves, through ACTION, of what the smallest act of love can do for ourselves and the world around us.
I am also motivated by how it can spread. It’s Wildfire baby! Many thanks to Nate who put the energy behind the spark. Incredible, innovative, heartwarming… and just plain awesome.”
“It Starts With Us has offered me a structured yet completely individual
opportunity to give back to others. When you join the community and read
the forums and talk to the people who are part of this amazing group, you
realise the huge effect it has on your own life and the lives of others.
It Starts With Us has given me the opportunity to give back in short sharp
bursts not only fulfilling my own daily dose of that ‘warm and fuzzy
feeling’ but in the process I have been able to satisfy the needs of
others; whether that be in the shape of a heartfelt note on someone’s blog
or sending a simple ‘I Love You’ to a friend.”
“I love being a part of It Starts With Us. This community opens up so many opprotunities to help people in the smallest ways. I would never have thought that in just fifteen minutes I could change someone’s day for the better. ISWU has really given me a chance to think about others before myself and come up with ways – big and small – to better my community. I love how open everyone is to new ideas and how creative everyone is. We really all are part of something bigger than ourselves in ISWU and I’m proud to be a part of it.”
“You know that moment, when you’re crushed in your own life, everything is at risk, and you look to the side of you and see that 14 year old girl who has lost her best friend to drugs, or that military wife who couldn’t take one more day of the PTSD of her beloved husband, or you find that single dad who feels beaten about the head by the challenges of raising his kids alone. And you find that your hand reaches out to their hand, you find your heart fill up with a deep love and you share words with them, listen, hug them, staying that extra ten seconds that change you from broken to human, and you go back into your world knowing you’ve given them peace, and love and they know they’re not alone in their struggles. THAT is why I am involved with Nate and ItStartsWithUs. Because my life is reeling from traumas and challenges, but I am grateful to be alive and I’m grateful to have the strength to share sorrow or laughter with someone who is also in the dregs of life’s challenges.”
“For me, I want to see a change in the world, and I want to be a part of that change by the way I live my life. ISWU challenges me to do things I might not normally do that really do make a difference in the lives of people everywhere. It provides small but important ways to show love to others, and that is something that I want my life to always be about.”
“10 years ago, I wanted to die. I didn’t want to actually kill myself, but
I would hope that while driving I would lose control of the car and be in
Now I know that I was suffering from severe undiagnosed depression. At the
time, the thought never occurred to me. All I knew is that I was
constantly unhappy, I didn’t want to be around people and all I did want
was to sleep and play online.
Unfortunately, it never occurred to my friends or family either. My
parents decided I was lazy and sponging off them and constantly nagged me
to get a job. My friends decided I was lazy and enjoying living off my
parents money too much to bother joining them in the real world.
It was a group of girls, then a man who has now become my fiancée who
pulled me through this. It was the kind words of strangers who lived on
the other side of the world that did what my friends and family could not.
I joined ISWU to help those in situations like the one I was in. Never
underestimate the power of a few kind and understanding words, even those
from total strangers to help lift a mood. It’s a relief to me to see that
there is something out there to give a boost to others who are suffering.
I know this isn’t a cure and the affects may last as little a few hours,
but I know from experience that could be the difference between another
miserable day with dreams of dying to finally end the pain and deciding to
get help or that death is not the answer.”
“I have recently joined ISWU team and the whole ISWU community. Pre-ISWU I had the notion that there is no one good left on this earth. I felt like we were all in this purely for ourselves, who cares how others are feeling. Yes, someone has to change that, but who will? Who will take the role of the savor of our dying race? Someone, anyone, but not me. I don’t have the power. A 14 year old can’t change the world. All we’re good for is sitting on the couch complaining about the poor state of it. The change comes from the grownups.
But through this, I was shown how wrong I was. Somehow, by some random act of fate, I stumbled upon this website. I subscribed, thinking it was a waste of time, but hey, I was bored. When I read the first ATeam mission, I felt power. I felt the power that I could change someone’s life, for the better. Like even if no one else does, I can be the one person who at least attempts to brighten others day.
I have had few and far between nice things done for me, so I know how it fills your heart up with a sense of well being, a sense of happiness. I wanted to pass that on. I wanted more people to experience this feeling. Through this, I found even minor things, like 2 dollars a day, or telling your family you love them, or even opening up to someone new gives them that heart-in-the-clouds feeling. I could all of a sudden change the world. Who cares if I’m not yet 18? I am powerful. I can change the world through small actions. Yes, once I get a job, it will be easier to make a difference, but until then, I still can.
I have a renewed sense of worth, a renewed sense in faith for the human race. Everyday, I will make a difference in someone’s world. I will complain less and act more. No longer will I sit idle. I want to thank ISWU for giving me that kick in the rear. For telling me it wasn’t impossible.”
“I love being part of this team because it has made me learn more about myself as a person. I also love being part of the ISWU team because it has shown me how truly good people are, and basically restored my faith in humanity. When I joined ISWU I was, sadly, suicidal. I figured that I might do any little thing to help people before I died. ISWU showed me how much people care and that hope is not lost. So, thank you for allowing me to be part of this.”
“ISWU has been a huge morale booster for me, it has given me the means to help people with such little effort and so much in return. I have and will continue recommending this to people as I feel it is a brilliant project.
Only 15 minutes out of your week at most and you help someone else as well as helping yourself, whats not to like about it? So what if you aren’t noticed? The lack of being noticed is out-weighed tenfold by the gratitude you give to others, in turn reflecting on yourself.”
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Teresa
“I immediately knew when I read about ISWU that I wanted to be a part of it because it HAS to start with us. With one person. One act, one smile is contagious. As Nate has proven over these past months. I’m glad to chip in a bread crumb here and there to make something happen.”
[visit site to join]
“It’s been a pretty amazing month watching how a Love Drop comes together. The guys that run the organization, Nate and J Money, are not only tremendously full of heart, but they are funny, sweet and really great to be around. I love the concept of Love Drop – how a little bit can go a long way – even a donation of a buck a month can do great things. I’m kind of a Love Drop fan girl now.”
“In the end, I saw a group of people gather together to do something really amazing for Katie who has done so much for other people throughout her life without asking for much in return. We came together, we made a difference, we changed a life by flooding it with love.”
“Over the past few months the community of people who love Katie has come together to make this Love Drop very special for her. From sharing frequent flier miles so her best friends could come to Dallas to surprise her, to sending gifts, cooking food to stock her freezer, shopping for her kids, gathering donations, and traveling many many miles, the people behind this drop were able to give back just a tiny bit of the love Katie shows to everyone who knows her. It was a very heartwarming thing to take part in, and truly a blessing to give.”
“I like these organizations because you can begin to get into the habit of giving to others and yet the commitment moneywise is negligible or non-existent. Any age can participate and I can see this appealing to teenagers and others who are unable to give in other events. Amazingly, the effect of these projects could bring hope to each of those affected and they are more likely to pay it forward themselves. I think we can all agree that could truly change the world.”
[visit site to join]
“The idea behind this is genuine. I have never been a part of something so sincere and sweet in my life. I read the blog of the person we are “bombing” and my heart goes out to them. I then read what everyone responds to and my faith in humanity is restored. So many giving people are willing to give their time to someone who they dont know. the overwhelming feeling of love that these people must be feeling after their bomb is amazing. I can not even accurately express how phenomenal this experience is.”
“I am the recipient of a Love Bomb. My older sister had committed suicide and the day that I found out I wrote every feeling that came to mind on my blog. I was struggling. I felt very alone in my thoughts. Nate and his team found my blog and then flooded it with over 400 comments from people all over the world. They understood my grief and left so many positive comments. I was floored. Here were people I have never met offering me such support and an outpooring of compassion. It made my journey through my grief just a bit easier. I will forever be grateful to Nate and It Starts With Us for taking the time to show me that the world still cares.”
“I love bomb people because once upon a time I was suicidal and was saved by the kind words of one person. If one person can do that, think of what hundreds could do.”
“Margaret Mead is quoted as saying “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” As a girl obsessed with the contagious spread of positive emotion, I have always believed this but saw it firsthand when I dropped my first Love Bomb. A few mouseclicks and heartfelt words from around the globe have restored hope, offered comfort, and changed lives. I’ve seen it. The ItStartsWith.Us team is exactly the kind of “group of thoughtful, committed citizens” Ms. Mead was hoping for.”
There are many, many more notes like this, and I’m sorry I can’t include them all. But I would like to thank each and every one of you for being a part of this team and working together to change the world . . . in just 15 minutes a week.