For as long as I can remember, I have been someone who would interject to offer a solution to solve a problem, even if far-flung. It’s part of my ever-present Omni-attitude of ‘We can do this!” Starting my first company at age 6 was the result of being ushered to the playground to engage in a competitive game of hopscotch with classmates only to assess the wooden disk used to play the game set everyone up to fail, as the puck rarely landed within a square. Frustrated, I approached the teacher to let her know I could design and make custom beanbags to solve this engineering issue so we could actually play this game, and with style. She agreed and the next day I was in business with orders rolling in.
I never forgot what transpired on the playground that day. At the young age of 6, I learned I had a voice and the gift of ingenuity. Creative-engineering is how I approach problem-solving and my ‘masters degree’ in follow through put ideas in motion. This combination, coupled with a heart for service, set the stage for activating many initiatives to provide for youth in Nashville and what led to launching Alyn Vaughn.
A chance meeting at a restaurant that offered ‘community-style’ dining led to a program to provide ‘happies’ for pediatric patients at our Children’s Hospital. I worked in the entertainment business, so it made absolute sense to me to tap into our client roster to make memories for patients and their families. In addition to notes and packages from favorite country music stars throughout the year, we would take a large group of patients, along with their family, to shows at CMA Fest and then backstage for a private meet and greet. In the music business when concert ticket sales are low, promoters will do something called ‘paper the house.’ This means unsold tickets are given away for free to fill venue seats. I leveraged this opportunity to offer youth and their counselors at a nearby community center an evening of much-needed fun and distraction.
My passion for serving youth was not limited to terminally ill patients or youth struggling emotionally. An introduction with the principal of a local Title 1 elementary school led to launching an office-wide initiative to mentor at-risk and ESL students, school beautification projects, an annual holiday gift-giving project, and fundraising projects. This relationship with the school yielded my ability to foster sisters who needed extra love and support.
It was important to me that I shared the simple act of doing with my then 10-year-old son. When leaving football practice with him at the start of the season, I noticed a group of boys riding home in the back of the coach’s pick-up. I called the coach to find out why this was happening. He said “If these boys don’t have a ride, they cannot play. For them, football is a place where they find much-needed support and a break from their reality.’ I told the coach, ‘I got this. What are their names and where do I take them?” The following evening Liam and I would begin driving the boys home from practice and taking them to every weekend game. The following Saturday parents saw me walk onto the field with this group of boys. Immediately they began approaching me from the stands to ask how they can help. I said, “We need to mobilize a carpool unit from the library every Saturday morning so their parents (usually just mom) and siblings can watch them play.” Here we were all together watching our boys play an incredible season that took them to the playoffs. I will never forget hearing the mother of JB cheer as she watched him run a 90-yard touchdown! A shared memory they will never forget. She said to me after the game, “You may be white, but you are black on the inside.” Best compliment ever!
I’m sharing my journey so you have a better understanding of who I am and why I care. The 6-year-old in me saw a fracture in our education system, so I set out to address the national absence of skill acquisition and apprenticeships among students in the United States.
Thank you for being here….