Outside the Box

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Outside the Box

Do you live inside the box or outside?  Until 2007, I have to admit that most of the time I lived inside the box . . . I had my small group of friends that either went to the same college, attended the same church or simply lived in the same neighborhood. I was comfortable . . . inside the box . . .

In August of 2007 something happened that changed my perspective forever . . . A casual Friday afternoon alumni meeting turned into a challenge . . . How could we “give back” to the community that some of us had lived in for a number of years and others were just now calling, “home”?  Could we find a way to lead by example?  Could we step outside the box?

The first challenge was to ask ourselves, “just how much time are we able/willing to give to this effort?” Let’s face it, there are many followers in any group but are we willing to lead?  On that Friday in 2007, we had no idea what kind of response we were going to receive from those that we approached . . . Leaders of other local alumni groups . . . but we stepped outside the box!

For much of my life I have heard the phrase, “be generous with your time and abilities and you will receive more than you give”.  I have to admit that I never really understood that mantra until getting involved with the NASLC – The Nashville ACC-SEC Leadership Council.

That first experiment – a charity golf tournament – in October of 2007 taught us a lot about ourselves and made us that much more excited about 2008 . . . Here’s where things really changed.

Local alumni leaders representing nearly every ACC & SEC school attended a meeting in the winter of 2007 to interview three small local non-profit organizations that needed our help to reach their goals and fulfill their missions.  After 3 hours of impassioned speeches, members voted to concentrate their future efforts for CASA of Nashville.  This is a CASA blog, so I’m not going to define what CASA does . . . What we had to determine – with baby steps – was our role in helping CASA to be as effective as possible in helping local children who had been identified as victims of abuse or neglect to find safe, permanent “forever homes”.

Fast forward to 2013.  Together, members of the NASLC have raised over $200,000.00 for local charity!  I never dreamed that I would call members from rival schools, “my friends” . . . In fact, many of these amazing people are among my closest friends.  The staff of CASA, long ago, ceased to be simply a group that needed my help.  They are family.  When my wife passed away in 2010 many NASLC and CASA members were there to support me and my family.  That’s what friends do for each other – they are there during the hard times.

I am truly blessed and all it took was a simple step – outside the box.  Are you ready to take that step?  Jump in, you’ll be glad you did – and so will CASA of Nashville and the children they serve.

Evan Vutsinas

ACC vs SEC Tournament Director and President

ESPN's Mark Schlabach addresses players and guests at Gaylord Opryland following the 2013 ACC vs SEC Golf Tournament benefiting CASA Nashville.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach addresses players and guests at Gaylord Opryland following the 2013 ACC vs SEC Golf Tournament benefiting CASA Nashville.