A new client
“My neighbour needs some help with a website, can I put you in touch with him please?”, to which my response was “Yes, of course”. Little did we know, that just over a year later, we would not only be working on a new online business community idea, but also launching a charity in memory of a client and dear friend, Carrie Kalman.
I spoke to David Kalman on the phone initially. He explained the situation with his current online business and the need for some assistance with a marketing strategy. Then, he told me the tragic story. His wife, Carrie had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour in April, and she had just a few months to live. The business idea originated from her and their 7 year old son, Jacob about using any space wisely. Essentially, helping people think about the space they have, from a bedroom to land, and in doing so help others.
Their situation was heart wrenching. I was moved by their story and encouraged by the business idea. When I first met Carrie, right from the start, we had a connection. Within minutes of meeting her, it struck me how kind she was. So completely selfless. The business idea was centered around building a sense of community. Making use of unused spaces for mutual benefit. She also wanted to tackle the current housing crisis issue and address the increasing issue of isolation and loneliness. I was struck by her passion and ambition for their business idea.
The team at Kemp Marketing quickly got started on a marketing strategy for the business. As we became deeply involved in the project and spent more time with Carrie, we soon realised that this was going to be bigger task than we first imagined. Carrie was just 44 years old, and David was keen for us to establish a charity alongside the business idea to leave a legacy. He was keen to support some of the causes that Carrie had a passion for, to make a difference and to keep her memory alive for their son Jacob.
The rising issue of homelessness
The number of people without a place to call home is rising fast in the UK, and the charities established to help them are seeing the number of people in need increasing, whilst the funding available to support them is in decline. This was the cause that Carrie was keen to support. We agreed on the name of the charity during a hospital visit.
I arrived at the Royal Marsden hospital in Sutton one sunny day feeling apprehensive about seeing Carrie so ill. She was receiving intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy and frequently experiencing seizures. As I walked through the door and sat in the chair next to the bed, the tension immediately lifted. Carrie’s compassion and positive energy filled the room. I asked her how she was feeling and she responded by telling me how lucky she felt. How fortunate she was for living in the UK, in Surrey with the Royal Marsden hospital on her doorstep. If she was in pain, she could simply press a button and medical help would arrive. “What about all those people around the world who don’t have this privilege?” she said. It was then time to get out my notepad and write down all her hopes and dreams for both the foundation and the business idea.
I left the room feeling inspired and motivated, with a list of actions. It was impossible not to feel an emotional connection with Carrie. This wasn’t simply a business contact anymore. I remember wishing desperately that the circumstances were different. Instead of walking through the reception of the Royal Marsden, I longed to be walking out into the car park of County Hall in Kingston Upon Thames, where Carrie worked. I wanted us to work on the charity and business idea together.
Carrie passed away on 1st August 2017, just after her son Jacob’s eighth birthday. Shortly after her memorial service on 14th August, we started work on the foundation. We worked with a local designer to develop the brand and printed a few t-shirts for a small team running in the Run Reigate event to raise money for the cause. We raised just over £3,000 and then set about finding out more about registering a charity and making connections with existing homelessness charities in the local area. The first Carrie’s Home Foundation project will be with the YMCA in Redhill. I also discovered that Carrie had some incredible friends, two of which agreed to become trustees of the charity, Michael Duthie and James Friend, along with our honorary junior trustee Jacob Kalman.
Reaching the first milestones
We are still waiting on our official charity registration number from the Charity Commission for England and Wales, but in the meantime, today feels like a milestone, as we launch the Carrie’s Home Foundation website, Twitter and Facebook page. Our objective was to raise £100,000 for the foundation, however we wish to exceed this of course.
As for the business idea, it will be called ‘Space for Good’, due to launch in 2019. It is a business designed to encourage community and sharing, with the majority of the profits going straight into Carrie’s Home Foundation.
Can you help?
Carrie’s Home Foundation is run entirely by volunteers. If you live in the area and could spare a few hours a week, they would love to hear from you. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org