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  • 14. Labor of Love

    “COVID-19 gave me the opportunity to live out my beliefs. What a blessing it is to get a call from a hospital that says, ‘Our nurses and our doctors, they're taking risks that are just not okay’. Could a man ever have a better blessing in life than to know that he got to live out his belief, which is, ‘Hey, we're going to try to love our neighbors?’“ – Jeff KaasIt is not too often that we hear of a for-profit business putting their employee growth and community contribution as their mission statement. Luckily, not only do these companies exist, but they are shining a light towards a pathway for hope and healing amidst a pandemic.In this week’s episode of Luminaries in the Dark, host Bruce Bracken is joined by Jeff Kaas, owner and consultant for Kaas Tailored, a furniture manufacturer and consulting group in Mukilteo, Washington. With a strong set of beliefs centered around loving his neighbors, Jeff tells us how he made the temporary switch from furniture manufacturing and consulting, to using his factory to produce PPEs to meet the 100 Million Mask Challenge. By putting his business aside, Jeff collaborated with his partners and competitors to create an international response to fighting coronavirus.Listen in and be comforted to know that putting people first can reap amazing results.ResourcesJeff Kaas - LinkedInKaas Tailored100 Million Mask Challenge - WebsiteSeattle Times - ArticleBruce Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at

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  • 13. Grass Stains, Flip Flops, and Therapy

    "Mental health has been an issue in our communities for a long, long time. If you look at any youth health survey results from communities around Snohomish County, depression, anxiety, kids vaping, drug use, all of that has been on the rise even before COVID." -Patsy CudabackChildren are our future. They will be responsible for building and leading our communities and helping us, as humans, progress to achieve a more just and caring world. It’s a fact that children are largely molded by their environment, and with the advent of COVID, children everywhere are facing the consequences of shelter-in-place orders. Suddenly, the things that are vital to a child’s development, such as school, community activities, and even friendships, are put on hold.The YMCA, a not-for-profit that has been around for more than 120 years, is ready to meet the challenge to support and care for children in our communities. This week, host Bruce Bracken speaks to Patsy Cudaback, Senior Vice President for the YMCA of Snohomish County, who is fearlessly answering the call to provide mental health support to our youth. By hiring mental health counselors and incorporating them into the day camps at the YMCA, Patsy provides children with a listening ear and skills for coping with the changes around them.ResourcesPatsy Cudaback - LinkedInSnohomish County YMCA - and BGCSC Summer Camp Partnership - KOMO newsBruce Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at
  • 12. Your Mountain Is Waiting

    “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” – Henry David ThoreauFor some, thinking of summer conjures up youthful memories of hiking with friends, canoeing down a river, fishing from a lakeshore, or late-night campfire stories. But this year, with travel and group gatherings curtailed, many of us face the challenge of finding ways to continue those summertime outdoor adventures.Luckily, this hasn’t stopped organizations from inventing unique ways for people to enjoy the season’s beautiful weather. Avid4 Adventure is one such organization that has pivoted its programs to accommodate safety and social distancing concerns while providing summer fun. With its mission to empower kids of all ages and skill levels and encourage them to choose active, outdoor lifestyles, Avid4 Adventure offers safe summer activities through their Camp at Home and Small Group Adventures programs.Paul Dreyer, CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer) of Avid4 Adventure, joins host Bruce Bracken for this week’s episode and discusses the importance of providing an outlet for children to improve their concepts of self-development and teach the importance of community through an evolution of summer camp and activities.Listen in and be inspired to rethink your summer adventure plans!Resources Paul Dreyer - LinkedInAvid4 Adventure: Adventure - Camp At Home: Adventure - Small Group Adventures: Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at
  • 11. Message in a Bottle

    "I can't imagine being more fortunate than to have a business that blends passion for a product with giving back and with helping others." -Teresa Spellman GambleMany businesses are struggling to stay financially afloat while successfully serving their customers amidst social distancing rules. But for other businesses the question they are struggling with is – what else more can we do to help our community?Tinte Cellars is one of those very special businesses, founded on a philanthropic model that seeks to support the community. Host Bruce Bracken talks with co-owner Teresa Spellman Gamble, who started a campaign aimed at brightening the day of so many elderly people who are affected by COVID-19.Drawing from her unique upbringing and her devotion to her community, Teresa encouraged those around her to create thoughtful handwritten letters or cards, that would then be distributed by Northshore Senior Center, the second largest senior center in the United States. In a short time, Teresa’s Love Letters to the Elderly campaign quickly grew in popularity in Washington State, inspiring others everywhere to do the same.It’s heartening to realize the power that a few meaningful words on paper can have to brighten and bring hope to someone’s day.Resources:Teresa Spellman-Gamble – LinkedIn  Tinte Cellars – Love Letters to the ElderlyNorthshore Senior Center – WebsiteSeattle Times - ArticleWoodinville Weekly - ArticleSeattle PI - ArticleTinte Cellars Website: www.tintecellars.comReservations: info@tintecellars.comBruce Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at
  • 10. Family Ties

    "Whatever our New Normal will be, we will be there for our families." - Carrie SlavinMost of us have had to significantly readjust our lives due to stay-at-home and social distancing mandates, that has given many of us increased opportunities to spend time with our families - eating meals together, playing board games, and otherwise getting to know each other better. But for families that are struggling due to the economic downturn, buying food and household supplies is a major concern during these times. These families have had to make sacrifices, sometimes being forced to choose between buying much needed food and buying cleaning and disinfectant supplies to stay healthy.This week host Bruce Bracken talks to Theresa Roberts and Carrie Slavin, President and Former President of The Assistance League of Seattle. After seeing that families needed supplies other than food and clothing, Theresa and Carrie set out a program to assist families to receive basic hygiene and cleaning supplies. By engaging other families in their local community, The Assistance League of Seattle was able to create 325 family-to-family care packages.Join us in the next episode to as we listen in on how families are helping families in the Seattle area.ResourcesWebsite for The Assistance League of SeattleSeattle Times ArticleBruce Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at
  • 9. The Power of Gratitude

    "Loneliness, as a concept, is going to be the next epidemic." – Noah FriedmanWe have all seen the signs and heard the instructions - stay 6 feet away from each other. When followed, this rule has kept the COVID-19 infection count low in some areas and is vital to helping states re-open stores and public places. But when was the last time any of us gave another person a hug? Or even a handshake or a pat on the back? Chances are, for most of us, its been about 5 months since we have interacted with another person this way, and it begs the question; how has being apart from others affecting our need, as humans, to be connected?In this next episode of Luminaries in the Dark, host Bruce Bracken is joined by two people who are hoping to keep us connected during these troubling times. Noah Friedman and Sahil Bhaiwala are co-founders of 6FtCloser, an online platform designed to send short videos of appreciation to essential workers. Users can, in a short time, show their gratitude by either making a video, or nominating an essential worker to receive a video. All messages are exchanged anonymously, and users are encouraged to speak from the heart.While this platform doesn’t replace the comfort of a hug, or an in-person communication, it can remind us of the power of gratitude. Resources6FtCloser - WebsiteNoah Friedman - LinkedInSahil Bhaiwala - LinkedInBruce Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at
  • 8. Community Spirits

    "There's just something about it when it's vodka and it's this luxury item. It's not that it's any less meaningful, but when you're doing something and you feel the personal connection of almost fear and the unknown, it's pretty darn meaningful!" - Ian Macneil, Glass DistilleryChange is difficult. Ask any business owner and they will likely tell you that introducing change is one of the most exciting yet riskiest things you can do. Especially now that small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open, businesses have had no choice but to pivot in response to social distancing guidelines and consumer demand. The question most ask is: Can you pivot your business meaningfully during these unprecedented times?In this episode, host Bruce Bracken chats with Ian MacNeil, owner of Glass Distillery, a Seattle vodka distillery company. By using their byproduct from distillation process, Ian is able to produce thousands of hand sanitizers to give and sell to the public. Ian’s hand sanitizers are in such high demand that he has dedicated production capacity for it, and large grocery outlets such as Whole Foods are now stocking his line of hand sanitizers.Join us as we learn how one distiller was able to pivot his business successfully to help his community.ResourcesWebsite: Bracken - LinkedInDiscover and follow other Microsoft podcasts at