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Meet Dawn Airhart Witte of The Desire to Inspire Foundation in La Canada Flintridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dawn Airhart Witte.

Dawn Airhart, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Though I am involved in many projects, I am most proud of my role as a mom to two daughters. Nurturing their hearts and spirits drives a deep desire to do the same for children everywhere. And my mission is to do exactly that through Desire to Inspire and purposeful trips around the world providing much-needed assistance in the form of clean water, education, clothing, food, books and love.

I always knew that I wanted to make a positive difference in the world and after my first trip to Africa, I fell in love with the community there and saw for the first time what I wanted my life’s work to be. Helping children reach their greatest potential has been something near and dear to my heart and when I saw, first hand, the extreme challenges children living in Africa face, I had to do something. And why not me? I realized that the little money I was able to send them could make the difference between them having food or not or being able to be treated for malaria or not.

Today the foundation is in the process of building community centers that will combine real-world training with transformational life coaching principles to help people discover and use their talents to support themselves, their families, and communities. Lifting people out of extreme poverty is empowering and allows everyone to live into their highest calling. It is an adventure and privilege to be able to do this work in the world.

Prior to following my passion to improve the world, I held a number of leadership positions. I served as PTA President, NCL-LA Founder Chapter President, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Big Sister, Public Works Commissioner for the City of La Canada Flintridge, and many others. I attended Cornell University and earned certification in Animal Assisted Therapies from Harcum College. Through each experience, I have learned a great deal about leadership and the importance of inspiring people to greatness.

Has it been a smooth road?
When you set out on a goal of lifting an entire continent out of poverty, there will surely be challenges and my road has been no exception. The needs are staggering and the number of people who need real help is sometimes overwhelming but they are my “why” and when your “why” is so important there is no obstacle or challenge too great to overcome. Finding the funding to do all of the work I want to do is definitely a struggle at times but I remind myself that there are many people who have been doing this work for a long time yet poverty still exists. In the end, I may not reach my goal of lifting the entire continent but I do know that I have made a profound difference in the lives of the thousands of children I know and love. I will continue to go forth with the hope and desire to touch as many lives with love and kindness as I possibly can.

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded, ” by Ralph Waldo Emerson is one of my favorite quotes. I know that many lives are breathing easier because I exist and there is nothing more rewarding and fulfilling to me.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
The Desire to Inspire Foundation is dedicated to collaborating with partners globally in an effort to provide communities in need with basic necessities, vocational and educational opportunities and the action needed to uplift one significant life at a time. We ask that all of those we help do the same for others. This is how we change the world. Extending the ripple of kindness far beyond one’s reach.

Just as a mother does, we help provide food, clean water, shelter, medical care, mentoring, sustainability centers, vocational training, and love.

Children and families are suffering. They lack access to basic needs that would otherwise offer them the chance to climb out of poverty and avoid the threat of disease and starvation. Children go to bed hungry and often do not have a school meal to look forward to in the morning because food is scarce everywhere. We have the resources to help. Together we can lift the world.

I am most proud of the love and inspiration we have been able to bring to the men, women, and children from Ghana, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda, and Kenya. Being able to change someone’s life in a positive way is profoundly rewarding to me.

The thing that sets the Desire to Inspire Foundation apart from other organizations is we want to put our focus on creating jobs so that people can put their own unique gifts and talents into the world. The sense of accomplishment and pride one receives from a job well done or creating something can’t be given to anyone. Our goal is to help others live into their highest calling. It is the most rewarding and fulfilling way to live.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I love living in Los Angeles. I used to complain about the traffic, like most of us do, but after traveling to Accra and Nairobi, I decided that LA traffic could be worse. We could have to navigate around goats as well as cars and people, so no more complaining from me. As with anyplace else there are positives and negatives to living and doing business here but the positives far outweigh the negatives. Living in Los Angeles, we have access to so many resources and opportunities plus the weather can’t be beat.

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Image Credit:
Davis Hidinks Ogosi, Stephanie Wiley

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