• Sponsor A Law Kid Update – March 22, 2011

    I’m 81 days into my Sponsor A Law Kid (SALK) campaign and have 127 days to go.  So far, I’ve sold 46 days to 33 people and businesses, and it’s paid for about 1/3 of this semester’s tuition.  It’s been quite a journey and I’m grateful to have been part of these people’s lives.

    When I embarked on this campaign in November, my friend basically said to put up a blog post and a Facebook page and see what happens.  I sold quite a few days right off the bat, but then things fizzled out a bit.  Over winter break, I decided to send some emails to people who might be interested in sponsoring a day.  I made a list of every product I use or businesses I patronize on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, I use mostly national brands that don’t sponsor individuals.  Then I started flipping through local publications that I read when I have the time, and I sent emails to everyone who had an ad that included an email address or website.  I would easily spend 8 hours sending emails to get 1 or 2 responses that would say “Yes.”

    One day over break I was lounging around my parents’ house when my phone rang.  It was a representative for Bashas’, a family-owned grocery store chain in the Phoenix area where I regularly shop.  They received my message about SALK and she was calling to offer me a $1,000 scholarship in lieu of sponsoring a day.  I was speechless and so touched by their generosity.

    When I returned to Phoenix, I decided to see if any of the local news stations would be interested in using SALK as news story since school would be back in session soon.  I sent an email to every news station and pitched SALK as a potential story.  I was shocked when I got a call 20 minutes later from Channel 15 asking if they could come over to do an interview to air that night.  One of the viewers that night was a woman who used to be a receptionist at the agency where I worked before law school.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  She loved the idea of SALK so much that she sponsored a day to raise awareness for soldiers with PTSD.  Somehow the Phoenix New Times heard about my campaign and featured SALK on their 365 Ideas blog.

    I had sponsorship for most of the days in January.  On the first day that didn’t have a sponsor, one of my classmates offered to sponsor it at a much reduced rate to promote a cause for him.  I admired his gumption, so I accepted the deal.

    One thing I’ve learned from SALK is that it takes more time and energy than you’d expect to write on someone’s behalf.   My sponsors trust me to write about causes that are close to their hearts, and I take these obligations seriously.  It takes considerable thought to determine the best way to accurately express their sentiments.  I am honored by the opportunity to share their stories, whether I’m writing about a rare illness, paying tribute to a loved one, or promoting someone’s passion.

    Nowadays I’m too busy to solicit sponsorship, but I’m glad when the emails pop into my inbox from people asking to sponsor a day.  Moreover, I’m always happy when I see that others are finding my sponsors because of my blog.  My only regret related to SALK is that I didn’t think of it sooner and have more time to invite people to be part of the SALK family.

  • Darvin DeShazer is the fungi fun guy, the lord of the yeasty beasties, the master of the mushrooms.

    Seriously, he is.

    Amancita muscaria – photo by Darvin DeShazer

    By day, DeShazer is the chairman of the Science Department at St. Vincent High School where he teaches Biology and Advanced Placement Biology.  One look at his classroom walls will reveal his passion for mushrooms and fungus.  On his own time, he is a co-founder of the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA) and the group’s science advisor.  The group’s goals are to appreciate and learn about local mushrooms and to educate the public about the vast world of fungi.  DeShazer has over 30 years of experience in this field and a library of over 1,000 books on mushrooms!!!  He has co-authored many publications about fungi, including 100 Edible Mushrooms.

    Just get him started on mushroom hunting (oh yes – there’s such thing as mushroom hunting), and he lights up like a Christmas tree and will tell you stories for hours about his adventures with mushrooms.  (Note: that’s “with” mushrooms not “on” mushrooms.)  He maintains a blog of beautiful photography from his mushroom hunts where he says, “The fun(gi) is in the hunt, but the thrill is not to kill.  The foray is the fun and it leads to learning by observing.  And to think, the incredible journey starts from a tiny spore.”  His website on gilled mushrooms states that every visible feature of these mushrooms has a microscopic reason – and he’ll tell you all about them.  At first this may seem boring, but it’s Neat Stuff!!

    And mushrooms are not just good for eating, one species is known for containing one of the only known chemicals that can help fight off small pox.  If the bioterrorism threats ever come to fruition, it will be handy to have a friend who is a fungus expert.

    Along with sponsoring nationally-recognized speakers, an annual mushroom fair, and local mushroom hunts, SOMA offers a valuable service to hospitals, veterinarians, and the community: free mushroom identification.  DeShazer is often the person that the hospital calls when someone shows up at the emergency room with a mushroom in their hand and says, “I ate one of these and now I don’t feel so good.”  When I was in his Advanced Placement Biology class, if there had been a story in the news about a local person being treated at the hospital for a eating wild mushrooms, DeShazer often had a story about going to the emergency room to identify it for the doctors.

    Mushroom hunting is a wonderful hobby, but as SOMA cautions, never eat a wild mushroom unless you’re absolutely certain of its identity. For me that means, I don’t eat it unless DeShazer picked it.

    Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school. Today’s sponsors are Darvin and Jane DeShazer.   For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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  • SALK Day 1 – What Am I Doing??

    Welcome to  2011 and the beginning of Sponsor A Law Kid!

    This is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school at Arizona State University.  People are sponsoring various days between January 1st and July 27th in exchange for having blogs written about them, their business, or the topic of their choice.  Today’s sponsor asked me to use my first day to give a little background information about myself.

    I went to St. Vincent High School in Petaluma, California where I took every honors and advanced placement class in math and science.  By the time I graduated, I was convinced that I was destined to get a Ph.D. in chemistry and win the Nobel Prize.  I liked working on problems and being able to find a concrete conclusion at the end.  I had amazing teachers who nurtured me along the way.  After high school, I went to Oregon State University and majored in chemistry for two years.  There I learned that I didn’t like being trapped in a lab all day.  I was also a Resident Assistant I learned that I liked working with people in a problem solving role.  Much to the shock of my classmates and mentors, I changed my major to psychology.  After graduation, I went on to get a masters degree in counseling, moved to Phoenix, and became a therapist working with adults living with HIV.

    Being a therapist was often rewarding, but at times it was frustrating because I was in a role where I was working at my clients’ pace, not mine.  I could diagnose clients with the best of them and I could make suggestions about what they might want to do to improve their lives, but there was nothing I could do to make them actually put these ideas into actions.  My hands were tied, and I often felt like I was trapped in my office.  I wanted a more active role in the problem solving process.

    I came to law school hoping to find the best of two worlds – helping people with their problems and being an active member of the problem solving team.  I am glad I chose Arizona State for school because of its Center for Law, Science, and Innovation.  My plan is to practice intellectual property and internet law.

    During law school, I have become involved in the social media and to a lesser degree, the podcasting communities.  These are the type of people I want to have as clients some day.  In November 2010, I was out for a run and catching up on my podcasts.  I heard an interview with Jason Sadler, founder of I Wear Your Shirt.  He makes a living producing content and advertising companies by wearing their shirts.  I thought he was a genius.  He inspired me to tweak his idea and instead of selling days in exchange for wearing people’s shirts, I could sell days in exchange for writing blogs for my sponsors.  I checked with one of my social media friends and he said to run with the idea.

    To date, I’ve sold 33 days with other potential sponsors considering which days they want to buy.  This program has paid for ~20% of my tuition.  One potential sponsor opted to give me a $1000 scholarship in lieu of sponsoring a day.  I will be selling days until the program is over or until I run out of days.  I want to thank all my sponsors in advance for participating in this program and contributing to my education.

    Sponsor A Law Kid is my endeavor to pay for my last semester of law school.  Today’s sponsors are Darvin and Jane DeShazer.  For more information about Sponsor A Law Kid or to see what days are still available for sponsorship, visit my Sponsor A Law Kid page.

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