Keeping Up With the Joneses: Part 2

As mentioned in my previous blog post, Keeping Up With the Joneses, scouting out good Christmas lights is a holiday tradition for our family. Unfortunately, we haven’t found too many new locations over the years – I thought that the “Electronic light finder” app would help us out but sadly the only locations that were tagged were more than 30 minutes away and we just aren’t that dedicated to the cause anymore.

However, on Christmas Eve we did a drive around our neighborhood and then hit up the two main “go-to” houses in our town. I think these light displays certainly compete on the same level as Paul Tudor Jones. I mean, he doesn’t have taxidermied reindeer, does he?

The family loading up the car - Hey, where's Matt?
Reflection on the Pond
Are those reindeer real???
Why yes, yes they are.
Santa’s Workshop
 

Keeping Up with the Joneses

Growing up one of our holiday traditions was to drive around the surrounding towns looking for spectacular Christmas light displays. Over the years, we have discovered  various houses decorate with lights, led displays and holiday figurines. There is even one house in our town that features the most life-like reindeer pulling Santa’s sled – we soon learned that these look so life-like because they are real Reindeer and the person who lives in the house is a taxidermist! Only in NH…

Last night Matt and I took the train out to Greenwich, Connecticut to visit our friends Laura and Sam. And while we certainly enjoyed spending time with them our real reason for the trip was to see the Christmas light display set up at the home of Paul Tudor Jones.

Paul is a hedge fund manager who founded Robin Hood back in 1988. He is an incredibly generous and caring person and I consider myself extremely lucky to work at a place that carries out his vision. He gave a very moving speech at one of our events about a month ago – feel free to watch is here.

Every year, the Jones family spreads a little (or some may say, a lot) of holiday cheer with their Christmas light display. And we’re talking more than lining the roof and windows with lights… Off-duty police officers direct traffic around the sprawling light display, allowing drivers to line up eight at a time in front of Jones’ 13,000-square-foot home on a waterfront cul-de-sac. A soundtrack synchronized to the thousands of flashing lights plays over the radio, creating a show that  lasts nearly five minutes long.

Before dinner, Sam and Laura drove us through the magical display – let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

 

 

This is a tradition that was started back in 2000 and every year the show has become more elaborate. I’ve included video from 2010 below.

 

 

So while I am sure some people will criticise Paul for spending a large amount of money every year on his Christmas light display, I am thankful. It is hard not to smile as you drive by his house. Thank you for preserving the spirit and magic of the season!

I Love My Job

I promise, despite my posts of late, I won’t turn my blog into a complete love-fest for Robin Hood. Although, I certainly could do such a thing.

After working here for just four days, I am filled with such passion for our mission that hope that my blog can help others of you share my passion as well. David Saltzman is one of the people who started it all. Serving as the Executive Director since Robin Hood’s creation, he has seen the organization grow from a non-profit that raised just shy of $100,000 and funded two programs its first year, to its current stats: raising $1 billion raised in total and funding 200 programs in the year 2010 alone. To work with him is truly an honor and you are guaranteed to learn something every day.



Be Robin Hood

I blogged earlier 2011 is going to be an amazing year. Matt and I are getting married, I am committed to making the most out of living in New York, my sister will lead her OWN swim team during conference and the national championships, and hopefully the Patriots continue their latest string of successes with a Super Bowl win. But most importantly, in 2011, I will get to be Robin Hood.

Last week I blogged about some exciting career news that I had to share. And now I can finally announce that, as of today, I am a proud member of the Robin Hood Foundation. An opportunity presented itself for me to leave my previous position and join this amazing organization. And while this position will undoubtably come with many challenges, longer hours than I am used to and a lot of work, I believe that it will be worth it. For the past two years, I have been thirsting for a bigger challenge, a more meaningful mission, and to be part of an organization that is proud of its work. After spending one day in their office, I know I have found all of these things.

I have blogged about Robin Hood before, but for those of you that are unfamiliar with it, Robin Hood is a charitable organization that fights poverty in New York City. Currently, 1.8 million New Yorkers are living in poverty. Together, they could populate the fifth largest city in the United States–larger than Boston, Atlanta and San Francisco combined. These people struggle with the rising costs of food and housing, and fewer opportunities for adequate health care, quality education and secure employment exist.

Robin Hood is changing the fates and saving the lives of these people by applying investment principles to charitable giving. They find, fund and create the most effective programs and schools serving families in New York City’s poorest neighborhoods.

Robin Hood follows an extensive due diligence process to ensure that every dollar invested generates results. Before investing in a program, Robin Hood reviews its strategy, scrutinizes its financial statements, evaluates its management teams, and conducts multiple visits.

And the support doesn’t stop there. Robin Hood protects and leverages its charitable investments with top-notch management and technical assistance. Their in-house management experts help programs with their strategic and financial planning, recruiting and legal concerns, organizational issues and capital needs…with whatever they require. And if they don’t have the expertise in-house, they get it elsewhere. They have access to the top people and firms in New York to get the job done pro bono.

And because Robin Hood’s board of directors pays all administrative, fundraising and evaluation costs, 100% of donations goes directly to organizations helping impoverished New Yorkers build better lives.

So… for those of you wondering what it is like to work at Robin Hood… I can now tell you. I started my first day with an all staff meeting that felt more like a really interesting college seminar on business analytics coupled with a high school pep rally. The obvious intelligence in the room was almost as much as the pride and honor the employees felt for their organization and for each other. The meeting culminated with the presentation of a cake depicting a scene from the movie Robin Hood, which was created, by who other than Buddy, the Cake Boss.

Not a bad way to start the year.