Volunteering became my Cornerstone – Stephen Bailey

Volunteering played a significant role in waking up to my real purpose in life. As a white male that grew up in a lower middle class family, I had wanted for very little. Even though I had my own struggles and dark times, I had never been denied access to things like medical care, education, employment opportunities, or paying my monthly bills. As I entered my thirties, I found a new perspective on all of this.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree and working the ladder up to the top of Corporate America, I arrived to find that there was no satisfaction awaiting me. I had a large leadership role and was making great money, but I felt empty inside. I quit my job and emptied out my 401k to pursue my own business full time.

That was when I had a wake up call. I went from having money to not being able to pay my bills. I went from having opportunity to having no opportunity. I went from having a purpose to having no purpose. I would look in the mirror every day, determined to never go back to the corporate world. I knew I had a purpose that I was willing to lose everything to find.

That is when volunteering entered my life at such a crucial time. I started reading books and philosophies on how to receive. I realized that receiving was all in equal relation to what I was giving. I had this awakening. “How could I expect my community to give me so much when I was giving it so little?”

I started volunteering for hospice after receiving training. I stayed with individuals as they were approaching death. I would hold their hand, listen, and offer comfort. I started sponsoring a child in Mexico that was in desperate need of financial assistance. I did this when I had no money to spare, but I found a way. Volunteering offered a new way of approaching my community.

Within the next five years, I had volunteered for three political movements, had been offered and accepted three board positions, joined over a dozen community-based committees, and was actively volunteering in efforts to reduce littering and assist with the needs of the homeless in our community.

It’s no coincidence that when I started giving my time away, my own business started growing at lightning speed. Today, instead of worrying about how to pay my bills, I have projects that are scheduled as far as nine months in advance. To understand volunteering is to understand that we are human and we are part of the flow. Sometimes we will be in great need and sometimes we will be able to give greatly.

As we go through different phases in our lives it is important to give when it is time to give and to receive when it is time to receive. Now, I experience both of these principles throughout each day of my life. These experiences have given me personal growth, joy, relationship, and purpose. Volunteering became the cornerstone for a life that I created on my own, and it’s a life that is rich and deeply connected to life here in northeast Indiana.

Stephen J. Bailey is a Fort Wayne native and the owner of PH Digital that was founded in 2006. Based out of the Anthony Wayne Building in downtown Fort Wayne, he specializes in web development, SEO development, social media management, and digital marketing campaigns with numerous companies in northeast Indiana. Stephen loves road trips, sushi, his pups, and spending time on our three rivers.

15 Opportunities to Give Back This Holiday Season

Highlighting nonprofits in Fort Wayne is the heart of The Greater Good. There’s no better time to highlight these nonprofits than the holidays when our hearts and wallets grow more generous. We’d like to inspire you with 15 ways to support local nonprofits this holiday season.


You can give a child the joy of reading by contributing to Kate’s Kart this holiday season. During your next trip to Glenbrook or Jefferson Pointe, stop by Barnes and Noble to purchase a book or more for kids ages newborn to teens. All you have to do is pick out any book(s) like a childhood favorite or the hottest YA novel, pay for your purchase at the register, and tell the cashier you’d like to donate your purchase to Kate’s Kart. Barnes and Noble will then deliver the book(s) to Kate’s Kart.

Another way to help the Salvation Army—besides through the Red Kettle Campaign— is the Angel Tree. All you need to do is take a tag from an Angel Tree and buy that item for a child, often clothing. Some Angel Tree locations in Fort Wayne include Sweetwater Sound, Elevate City Church, Fort Wayne Orthopedics, and Century 21 Bradley. Salvation Army also accepts monetary donations for the Angel Tree program.

If helping military families is close to your heart, Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County has the perfect opportunity for you. One of their many ministries is helping military families. Each Christmas season, they look for people to help provide a joy-filled Christmas for these military families. Associated Churches is looking for sponsors for 25 families this year. If you’re ready to help one of these families, contact Garry at garry@associatedchurches.org.

You can help give families staying at the Ronald McDonald House Charities a little extra holiday cheer this season. One way to spread holiday cheer is by donating holiday decorations for the House.  To set up decoration donations, email gretchen.spires@parkview.com. Another way to help is by signing up to donate meals to the families. There’s also the option of donating everyday household items. Some items on their wish list include cleaning supplies, department and grocery store gift cards, kitchen supplies, and single-serving snacks.

You can help give a child the gift of warmth this season. At Christ Child Society, you can make monetary donations toward hats, scarves, mittens, and coats. A donation of a hat and scarf is $5, a donation of mittens is $10, and a donation of a winter coat is $50. You can mix and match donations or donate more than one item in increments of 1 through 5, 10, or 20.

If you’re looking to give without spending, consider looking through your closet for dress clothes you don’t wear anymore. Blue Jacket Inc., a nonprofit that helps individuals facing barriers in gaining employment, accepts gently used dress clothes for their clients. While men’s and women’s clothing are needed, many men’s items like suits, dress pants, and shoes are in high demand. You can bring your donations to Blue Jacket Clothing Company or Christopher James Menswear.

The Rescue Mission needs your help completing their Christmas list. Their list consists of items commonly used by their residents. These items include Life Recovery Bibles, men’s wallets, winter gloves, rain ponchos, pocket calendars, word puzzle books, ear buds, reusable water bottles, $5 fast food gift cards, and men’s sweatpants. Any donations on this list must be dropped off at The Rescue Mission by Friday, December 14.

You can finish your holiday shopping by shopping at the downtown shop Creative Women of the World. Profits from the store help women in third-world countries overcome obstacles like human trafficking, poverty, and natural disasters. These women handcraft many of the items sold in the shop. Their selection includes women’s clothing, totes and wallets, bath and body products, and jewelry and other accessories.

If you want to help children this season, consider donating supplies to Erin’s House for Grieving Children. Their supply list is quite large and includes categories of craft supplies, program night supplies, and camp supplies. Some craft supplies include stickers, markers, crayons, coloring books, and paper; some program night supplies include bottled water, canned soda, cutlery, and paper products; and some camp supplies include bottled water, sunblock, individual snacks and juice boxes/pouches, and mini flashlights. Any donations can be dropped off at their office during business hours.

If you’re looking for a scarf for a friend or loved one this season, the Infinity Scarf at Paul’s Place may be the perfect fit. You can purchase an Infinity Scarf in dark green, light green, or white for $12. This purchase supports Paul’s Place, a nonprofit that provides a fully furnished temporary apartment for caregivers living outside of Allen County who are providing care for a loved one receiving treatment in a Fort Wayne hospital.

Project Linus is the perfect nonprofit to support if you love making gifts. Project Linus provides children with a new homemade blanket, giving them warmth and security during a difficult time. You can find more information about blanket sizes and conditions on their website. After making your blanket(s), you can drop off your contribution at the Project Linus house in Fort Wayne or at 2 other drop-off locations.


You can help Miss Virginia’s Food Pantry this season by volunteering with their Turkey Drop Off. The food pantry needs help with assembling and delivering these meals. Assembly is on Thursday, December 13 at 6 pm and delivery is on Saturday, December 15 at 8 am. Both volunteer opportunities take place at Leisure Lawn. You can learn more about the event by calling Suzy at 348-5162.

Start off your holiday season with some holiday cheer at The Chapel’s Christmas Benefit Concert. The concert is on Friday, December 7th from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. 100 percent of the $10 ticket sale goes to The Rescue Mission. You can purchase tickets at The Chapel during weekday office hours and during their weekend services.

You can support Vincent Village this holiday season by attending the Vincent Village Holiday Party. The party is from 6 pm to 8 pm on Thursday, December 13 and includes crafts, food, and fun. One way to contribute to the party is by donating funds for the main and side courses, desserts, and hot chocolate and marshmallows. You can also provide a cash donation of $25. You can learn more about making these donations at the event’s Facebook page.

Come join The Greater Good for our first official event! We’re teaming up with Mad Anthony’s Children’s Hope House to spread joy to kids at Lutheran Children’s Hospital. We’re meeting at 7 pm on Thursday, December 20. We’re going to show these kids that they are not alone this holiday season by shining flashlight beams into their windows. All you need to do to join in this special night is bring your own flashlight.

The Corporate Climb through Service: Salena Scardina Shares Her Wisdom and Lessons Learnt

It is with extreme pleasure to share guest blogger and life coach, Molly Roman’s, conversation with Salena Scardina, Customer Experience Consultant and former Senior VP of Customer Experience at Sweetwater Sound. Salena’s vast professional experience and dedication to personal growth and community development has provided her with a wealth of knowledge which she is always willing to share for the greater good.

The Interview:

Q: Tell the The Greater Good Community a little bit about yourself. How did you get started?

A: It’s an interesting story because in my life I tend to go forward toward what I want to achieve without thinking about how hard the journey will be. In one way it’s a good thing because if I knew how hard some targets would be to achieve, I may not have set them as a goal. I was the first in my family to go to college and sometimes I selected male dominated industries. I was trailblazing without realizing it, like taking programming classes in the late 80’s. There were literally such few women in this field. I think what is important is that I always said yes to opportunities even if I didn’t feel fully prepared or 100% qualified. I set the bar high and tried to achieve it. I took and continue to take risks.

Q: What is your guiding light to all of your yes’s, to where you are today?

A: Intuition is part of it but having a mindset of service to others, a sense of integrity and a strong work ethic is the foundation throughout all of the steps I take. In everything I do, I ask myself what the other person or the company needs, how can I make their life better, what can we do to improve for our customers. Even in this call, I thought, I wonder what your perspective is and needs may be as the interviewer. I try to put myself in other people’s shoes. Everyone has a story; I work to understand their story and I try not to be quick to judge.

Q: Tell me about a time you hit a glass ceiling or have felt stuck in your career. How did you move through that period?

A: Oh I’ve had those. I used to always look for reasons why the situation was to blame for my current feeling of “stuck.” But I eventually learned that it wasn’t just the environment around me, it was within me. These were moments that I delved further into reading and learning more about myself, growing and being stronger than the situation. I realized that I would look at my environment to provide my satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. When I changed my perspective and looked more within myself for satisfaction, I personally evolved and found peace without everything around me needing to be perfect. And sometimes, doing something new and finding a different job is good too, but leave for the right reasons. It’s good to be uncomfortable and learn something brand new.

Q: What belief did you change that you feel was integral in your development as a leader?

A: The belief that “I’ll be happy when…” is something I learned over the years that is detrimental. We are whole and complete now and have everything we need to be happy. I can always do my best even if I don’t love where I am at the moment. I get the opportunity to learn a ton and leave the company or a division better than where it was before I joined. You can be the best in the role you are in and grow even it’s it not your dream job or situation. That’s how doors open up – and they have. I believe we are all a student of business and life and we can use situations that we don’t love as opportunities to grow. We don’t have to wait for things to be just right to be happy. We can create purpose out of where we are today.

Q: What piece of advice do you have for others as they move through their careers, through life?

A: Lift while you climb. Always lift others up. I want to lift people along while I’m still learning, growing, and climbing.

Q: Final question. What change would you like to see in Fort Wayne?

A: Fort Wayne has a special sense of community and involvement. It’s a special town and can rival the amenities that big cities offer. But I would like to see an easier onboarding for people new to the city. I relocated to Fort Wayne over six years ago.  As others move to the city, I would love to see new residents connect to services and people faster and to feel part of the community at a quicker pace.

Meet Salena:

Salena Scardina has spent her career focused on the service to customers through innovative and differentiated experience and engagement. She is the founder of HeroCX, a customer service and experience consulting practice. Formerly she was the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience at Sweetwater Sound, and was charged with identifying opportunities at all levels in the organization to deliver a world-class experience with raving fans.

Prior to Sweetwater, Salena held multiple positions at McDonald’s Corporation over her 15 years of service under the Golden Arches including her last position as Director of U.S. Customer Experience & Insights.  She also held similar roles at the handbag and accessory company, Vera Bradley.  Salena believes in a philosophy of “lift while you climb,” that as you achieve your career aspirations, you should help others along the way achieve theirs.

Salena earned her Bachelors degree of Liberal Arts from Monmouth College and holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from Benedictine University.  She currently serves on the national board of SOCAP, The Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals as well as the local boards of the Greater Fort Wayne YMCA and Northeast Indiana Public Radio.  She calls Fort Wayne, Indiana her home with her husband John, and two children, Albert and Katie.

To learn more about guest blogger, Molly Roman, check out her site: http://www.mollyroman.com/

Meet: The Greater Good Team

Jennifer Norris Bermejo – Founder / Editor / Dreamer

Jennifer Norris Bermejo is a boomerang resident of Fort Wayne. She was born and raised in the Mid-west before moving to New York to establish her career in the apparel industry. Her passion for work and travel led her all over the world and ultimately back home!  Since moving back, she has immersed herself in all that is Great about Fort Wayne. She loves spending time with her two boys, exploring the city she grew up in and watching it bloom.

Annie Syrowski – Co-founder / Marketing Director / Seeker

Annie Syrowski is a marketing professional and copywriter living in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Annie is a natural-born observer. She loves to study and learn about what makes people tick and write content that informs and moves. Over the last three years, she’s planned more than 20 adult faith-building events for her former parish in Chicago and loves getting involved in her community. Most Friday nights​ you can find Annie and her fiancé, Jon, having a beer at Ted’s.

Sarah Dustman : Co-founder / Content Coordinator / Maker

Sarah Dustman is the Content Coordinator for The Greater Good. She graduated from IPFW in May 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in English. You can read some of her other work on sites like Macaroni Kid Fort Wayne and Visit Fort Wayne’s Insider Blog. When Sarah isn’t writing for The Greater Good, she’s probably reading or writing or thinking about reading and writing.

Are you interested in volunteering your time, talents or passion to join the team? We’re always looking for motivated individuals who are passionate about giving back to our community.

We’d love to hear from you!

Welcome, The Greater Good

Let’s face it – Fort Wayne is getting its swagger back.

From our downtown’s new offerings and polished classics, to a buzzing number of festivals, a thriving arts community and (not to mention) a consistent consensus that we are one of the top family-friendly cities in the nation! We have many reasons to be proud of where we’ve come from, where we are and where we are going. Through the efforts of a determined community (it takes a village !), we’re back on the map and better than ever.

With all the exciting momentum that surrounds us, there seems to be one lesser known factor. This factor strives quietly day and night to carry on all that might fall short of the status quo. This factor is driven by passion – palpable amounts of passion. Whether it is in the form of helping individuals and families struggling financially by providing shelter, clothing, and food. Or in the form of providing networking and leadership opportunities as well as job assistance. Or even working tirelessly to educate and form our community—especially our youth—through the arts, sciences, nature, and more. This factor is driven by a deep passion for it’s cause every.single.day to leave our world better than it was yesterday. To touch one life and ultimately, to touch many. This factor is our city’s heart and it is deeply ingrained and shining within our non-profits.
Yet, within the our community it is still far too easy to let the desire to do good and be greater, stop at a common montra,“I don’t know where to start.”

Welcome, The Greater Good.

Our mission is simple: to be the non-profit resource which both educates and engages our thriving community to actively take part in something greater than themselves.

As a community resource, we plan to highlight various non-profit organizations, giving them the opportunity to explain more about their cause and passion. We will speak with board members and volunteers to learn more about their “why” and share their stories to the community. And finally, we will actively promote volunteer opportunities, local non-profit events, fundraisers, etc. on our on-line calendar and social media pages.


So, if you’re a part of a non-profit that wants to be involved with The Greater Good, you can contact us at advocate@greatergoodfw.com or come connect with us on Facebook  and LinkedIn.