In the Spotlight: Dafna Michaelson, 50 in 52 Journey
Some people are just driven to do good and they need an event, a nudge or some sort of sign to get them off the couch and involved in helping others out.
That's the case for Dafna Michaelson, a Denver resident and mother of two, who started a non-profit called the 50 in 52 Journey because of a lottery ticket (more below). Previously to starting her 50 in 52 Journey, Michaelson was the Director of Volunteer Services and Patient Information for Denver Health and Hospitals.
The premise behind the organization was to travel to every state in the country in 52 weeks and interview inspirational individuals who are moving America forward. She set out to touch people and let them know that they were not alone. Throughout her journey, Michaelson reached and interviewed more than 600 people. As a result of her journey, she launched the "Journey Institute" to convey the tools she learned to people around the country. This year, Michaelson was listed among CNN.com’s Intriguing People for her accomplishments mobilizing and inspiring “good news” across our country.
TR: What prompted you to start this journey?
Michaelson: I was in the grocery store with my then boyfriend and he bought a lottery ticket, which was unusual because he never guys them. Now, I don't buy them either because my parents used to buy them all the time, creating these elaborate dreams of "what if's" — like everyone pretty much does when buying lottery tickets. My boyfriend bought the ticket and asked me the dreaded question, "What would you do if we won?" My answer was simple. I told him that I'd travel to all 50 states, engage with citizens about what they are doing in their community and help them solve problems. It was spontaneous, but I sort of meant it.
As we talked about it more, we realized that we didn't need to hit the lottery to give this a shot, so we did. I'm the type that will never complain about a problem I can't solve. I'll look for a solution no matter what. That gene sort of put me in hyper-drive. I thought that there were others out there who had ideas to help others, but needed a little encouragement and support. They needed help. That's what I wanted to do. So in 2008, I quit my job, took my 401k money and began my journey.Continued on the next page