The Dream: Couch Pennies, My NMO Nonprofit
Last updated: March 2023
At the age of 13, I was a young and healthy teenager. At the time, YouTube was still very new. Like many kids my age did at that time, we would browse until our fingers were tired of scrolling.
The days before my nonprofit foundation
I came across a young girl, Tallia, who was bald. She was doing her makeup, and I was intrigued. I wanted to know why she was bald. It’s OK to be curious as a human, and I was doing what humans do! I wanted to find out why she was bald on camera on her YouTube channel. I found that she was battling a rare type of brain cancer called neuroblastoma.
Curiosity started my path towards advocacy
I was not only interested in her cancer journey, but I was interested in her skills as a young makeup artist. I would patiently wait for videos to come every day. I would rewatch old videos.
Tallia was somebody that I related to. Not because of her cancer but because of the spunky, bubbly person that she was who just wanted to advocate for change.
Resonating with advocacy from a young age
An elementary school, I was very intrigued by philanthropic work. I’ve always been the type to count the blessings and the good things that I have instead of focusing on the negative. I still understood that some people don’t have that privilege.
I decided to take my joy of helping people - I blame that on being a Pisces - and started helping out different organizations and clubs at school. Some would donate to the children’s hospital. I frequently did shoe drives at Christmas.
When inspiration becomes action
I did everything I could to help out, even though I was only 13. That’s why, when Tallia came into my life (virtually), she further inspired me to want to help people. She was so passionate about doing what she could as a 13-year-old to advocate and provide resources for kids with cancer.
Power in numbers
She used statistics on the funding for childhood cancer that the government allowed. She would constantly beat that 4% statistic into her audience's heads to try to change some understanding of why there isn’t more funding and research for kids with cancer.
Tallia taught me how to do makeup. She was one of the first beauty gurus that inspired me. I like to think of myself as one of her original YouTube viewers because I'd watch YouTube religiously - even on school nights! That probably wasn’t the best idea, but channels like Tallia‘s really inspired me. I would sit up late at night and think about what I could do to provide change.
Remember the Saint Jude commercials and the impact that they had? I thought starting a nonprofit for kids with cancer could help the kids that I saw in those commercials. I remember thinking I needed a unique name that people, over and over, would remember.
How my nonprofit foundation, Couch Pennies, got its name
At that point, times were hard. We weren't always financially stable at home. We would often look for change in different places when we didn’t have enough money for food, gas, or other expenses. Funny enough, we would often find money on the couch.
I remember one time we didn’t have enough for gas or food. Just by lifting the couch cushion, we found a little under five dollars! Now, that may not sound like a lot - but when it’s change - especially pennies - it added up.
Couch pennies: small but valuable
So, I thought of the name "Couch Penny." I didn’t just think it was a cute name. I thought the idea behind finding value in something so small was such a meaningful idea.
The idea for my nonprofit foundation Couch Pennies, had begun.
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