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Love is Blind

As I cradled 18-month-old Qiushi in my arms, he squeezed my left pinky finger and seemed to say without words, please don’t let me go. He had just completed surgery in one eye and was preparing for yet another. His arms were locked into casts, to protect himself from touching the good work of the doctors and ensure his healing. His mind was no doubt wanting to be the active boy that lived inside.

Qiushi looked straight up at my own eyes with a kind of love that made me think for a moment he could see. But I knew he couldn’t...Qiushi is blind. His disability caused his parents to abandon him on a street in Beijing, only to find his way here, to Bethel Foster Home, a place built on a kind of love and generosity that knows no boundaries.

Walking into Bethel on the outskirts of Beijing, you find the words "Love is Blind" (perhaps the truest phrase ever told). The women that oversee the health and safety of the children here are nothing short of angels. Anna from Spain and Wendy from China work with their team to ensure the children at Bethel learn, grow, eat, and stay warm as the cold November days began to pervade the space. No one took their coat off during our visit. It was too cold. But the hallways feel happy and the classrooms are filled with books, toys and tools…loving donations sent from people all over the planet. Cut out tracing paper of children’s hands dot the main hallway, highlighting the children who have been adopted by families in China, the USA, Australia, the U.K. and more. Anna works tirelessly to see that one day every child in her care can live in a safe environment with a loving family. She has devoted her life to this purpose.

The day before our visit, my co-founders on Team See Possibilities completed a nonstop, three-day endurance challenge on The Great Wall of China. My teammates Charles Scott, Brad Graff and I guided our friend Dan Berlin, who is blind, on a multi-sport journey (trekking, cycling and kayaking) over remote and unrestored remains of this iconic piece of history weaving like a snake through China’s towering mountains. The steps and rocky terrain weren’t easy, but the views were breathtaking. I felt simultaneously insignificant and connected with everything in the universe. We slept in tents in abandoned watchtowers, stopping only to share meals with local villagers.

The purpose? To help Dan make history and inspire others to see past their own disability, uncovering instead what is possible. Since we formed our nonprofit a few years ago, we have run rim to rim to rim across the Grand Canyon and back in one day, ran the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 13 hours and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in the dark in 2.5 days. This Great Wall challenge took us one step closer to achieving our goal - helping Dan make history on 7 continents in 7 years, inspiring children along the way to believe that they can do a lot more than people might think.

Dan’s message to see his blindness as an inconvenience rather than a disability resonated here at Bethel Foster Home. If he could do this incredible challenge, perhaps that anything they set their hearts on could be possible too. This philosophy is the way that Anna, Wendy and the team care for the children at Bethel, valuing a more inclusive society.

Their work takes resources and support. If you’d like to make a donation to Team See Possibilities to support our efforts and our mission to support children who are blind around the world and challenge perceived limits, you can make a donation directly on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/teamseepossibilities/ or visit our website at www.teamseepossibilities.com

For more information about Bethel or to financially support a child in need, you can visit: https://www.bethelchina.org/sponsor-a-child-2/

It’s an interesting exercise to try one of your daily activities with a blindfold on or your eyes closed. You’ll find that there is so much you can “see," even without your sight. Indeed love is blind.


Blending Business and Family with Alison & Allison

We had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with our old friend Debbie Archangeles and chat a little about a lot: work life blend, re-evaluating and reinvesting to help business growth, personal causes and of course franchise business.

Hear the whole interview HERE


Keep Moving Forward - Re-inventing Your Brand

At Beyond Mom we often discuss how to start a business from ground up! But what about building a business and growing it over 8-10 years and beyond? We turn to the founders of apple seeds indoor play spaces and songs for seeds music classes, Alison Qualter Berna and Allison Schlanger. They met 9 years ago and bonded over having twins and quickly realized they shared a desire for a new Beyond Mom life. The ladies share their favorite company mantra (keep moving forward!), a typical day on the job, their inspiration behind their successful company and the fact that they are looking for other Beyond Moms to partner with to bring their children’s music program to their own communities. If you are interested in a meaningful career, with flexible hours, and the ability to bring your kids to work with you – read on!

And read on HERE at BeyondMom.com


Two couples strike a chord with family music-class franchise

photo credit Buck Ennis
An excerpt from the Crane's Business Article...
Alison Qualter Berna and Allison Schlanger became fast friends at a baby music class in 2005. Besides sharing a name, both were working moms with twins trying to solve the work-life balance conundrum.
A dozen years later their company is making millions of dollars helping parents keep their preschool kids active and stimulated. Now they are their own bosses, allowing them the freedom to make time for family.
The women's working relationship began with dinner and wine with their husbands, the conversation moving to how to strike out on their own. Soon the couples put a plan into action: They pooled more than $1 million from savings, family and friends to develop an indoor play space called Apple Seeds. From the get-go they wanted to create a brand that could become a franchise operation......
Read the full Crain's Business article HERE


NYC’s ‘apple seeds’ founders want to meet you

Here's an excerpt from our interview with LollygagBlog.com. You can see our full interview HERE

So now you’re offering the opportunity to franchise! Tell me a little bit about your ideal market and who your ideal franchisee might be!

Our ideal market is really any community where there are enough babies and young children! We are excited to see just how much songs for seeds could thrive in a city like Chicago. Our ideal candidate is usually a parent or someone who loves children. She wants to incorporate her family life into her work life and most importantly, she wants to have flexible hours and control her own time. She is outgoing, a doer with entrepreneurial drive. She wants to make an impact in her community and bring a new program to other parents in the neighborhood.

We have a comprehensive software platform that organizes franchisees from day one, [plus] an easy to use help center, marketing portal and customer feedback system. We have week-long intensive training program in NYC that is so fun we call it band camp. We give our partners ongoing support from contract signing throughout the running of their business. They are not alone and we can’t wait to share in their successes. No retail location is required, which means there is no lease nor build out. There are no full-time employees required- just the part time band, and who doesn’t like hiring cool musicians that love kids? Songs for seeds is a high profit margin business that is highly scalable and offers growth quite quickly. In fact, three of our franchise owners have opened their second locations in less than a year.....

Read the rest HERE