Saturday, July 25, 2015

Heroes You Should Know: Vivienne Harr

Like many eight year-olds, Vivienne Harr decided to open a lemonade stand and make some money.  For an afternoon?  No, for 173 afternoons.  To make some fun money?  No, to end child slave labor.  Not your typical eight year-old.

Vivienne had happened to see a photograph of two boys about her age in Nepal.  They each had a huge slab of granite roped to their back, and were holding hands as they stood at the top of a hill.  They were slave laborers.

She figured out, with a little help, that it would take $100,000 to buy freedom for 500 children.  So, she set that as her goal.  On Monday June 25, 2012 Vivienne placed her little stand in the middle of the public park in her hometown of Fairfax, California, and got to work.  At first she charged money for her organic, homemade lemonade.  But soon she realized that if she let people give from their hearts, she’d do better.  So she simply asked for good-will donations.  The average profit per cup jumped from $2 to $18.  One person even donated $1,000 for a cup.

And day in and day out, rain or shine, Vivienne was at her stand raising money.  On Day #52 The New York Times wrote an article about her efforts, and that same day Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Nicholas Kristof retweeted the story to his million plus followers.  And “Make A Stand” became a movement.  Media outlets from around the world began to share the message.

Finally, at the request of Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, Vivienne set up her stand in Times Square on Day #173, and surpassed her goal of $100,000.  Her parents wrote a check to Not For Sale, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending child slave labor, in the amount of $101,320.  But this amazing young lady wasn’t through.  She continued to sell until she reached 365 days straight.  And on the 366th day, her stand moved from the park to the web, and “Make A Stand” Lemonade began selling in bottles.  Today you can also find Vivienne’s lemonade in over 150 stores.

There remain an estimated 30 million human being enslaved worldwide, half of them children.  And Vivienne won’t be satisfied until every one of them is freed.  To that end, Make A Stand contributes a percentage of its proceeds to charities committed to ending child slave labor.

"You don't have to be big or powerful to change the world,” says Vivienne, “you can be just like me." 

What a world that would be.

Vivienne Harr is a hero you should know.  And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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