In 1975, two 20-somethings, Brian Daw and Anne McEvoy started Cornucopia, Inc., a non-profit in Cleveland, Ohio. Cornucopia was created to help people with disabilities develop skills and confidence leading to sustainable employment. Over their tenure opening and running The Bin in Lakewood’s Birdtown neighborhood, they helped hundreds and hundreds of young adults live, work and thrive in their community. They wanted every person to have the same opportunities as their peers – to build confidence and pride in their work. For decades, Brian, Anne, and The Bin’s volunteers and staff members trained and loved their staff. They helped them to succeed in ways these young adults (and many others) didn’t think possible.
In 1989, Brian married my mom, becoming my second father. He was a guiding force in so many lives, mine included, and always looked for ways to help, connect, and guide.
When The Orange Effect Foundation started and I joined the board, Brian wanted to know everything. He set up a meeting with Pam Pulizzi shortly thereafter wanting to know how he could help. The overarching mission in his life of integrating and pulling people into communities where they belonged was present in everything Brian did.
At family meals he would ask me, “How many kids received grants this quarter?” and would be wowed when I’d let him know that some of the early intervention and therapy grants were going to children under age two. His heart swelled when he heard that a teenager was finally able to receive therapy because of the Orange Effect.
I’d share general feedback and success stories we received from families, such as “it’s an amazing gift to be able to have my child verbalize their feelings now.” These comments would bring Brian (and then me) to tears. Brian knew the value of intervention, and he understood that the sooner support was given, the better the chance for lifelong success.
Unfortunately, Brian passed away last summer, leaving a gaping hole in our lives. But the legacy of Brian lives on in me, my family, my kids, and everyone that knew him. I’m happy to say quite a few Orange Effect board members had the privilege of knowing him.
I love the 100 Holes of Golf, the annual Golf for Autism, Silence for Speech, and the many other fun things we do. But it’s the WHY that can’t be forgotten. We are doing important work raising funds for children who really need it, who deserve a place in this world where they can succeed. Let’s set them up for success, and if you ever need a nudge that helping Orange Effect – or any charity of your choice – is a good idea, just think, “What would Brian do?”