Tony Marren – Humanitarian

Stay in the Batter’s Box and Keep Swinging…

I always wanted to be the head or founder of a humanitarian advocacy project.

In 2013, 46 million Americans had to go to food kitchens which are often flooded with donations during Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s a food deficiency 365 days a year. It’s a problem. There is not enough grant money to go to all the food kitchens. When they are open, they have to cut back on hours and meals served. Many don’t have the funding to keep the lights on.

In April, 2008 I created Operation Just One Can.

What made you decide to finally realize your lifelong dream?

Whenever a drive is held, you only need to donate just one can of food. If you are a pastor, it’s easy during the hours of worship. After a while, the idea will catch on. Donating one can of food is easier than giving money. If you give money to a charity, they don’t always give to the people in need. Most of it goes to the organization for salaries and overhead. It eats up the donations that come through.

My theory is to bring it to a level of exponential humanitarianism. Just donate one can. They will know exactly where the donation is going. We’ve had many miracles along the journey.

What were the specific obstacles that you faced?

The naysayers who scoff at ‘another charity.’ They said I would not be successful since there are already enough charities feeding the hungry.

What helped you get through them?

My friends encouraged me. They told me that I would see how selfish people can be. That I would see the side of people who don’t give a crap. I don’t let it become a morality battle of wits. I wouldn’t have gotten an article in the Christian Science Monitor or a Nobel Peace Prize nomination if there weren’t people who care.

I didn’t quit. For everyone that tells you no, you will find someone that will see the vision.

Were there people that tried to discourage you?

If you get told no, keep going. Say, ‘Thank you. Have a nice day.’ When the Christian Science Monitor article came out, I got and email from the Executive Director from the Food bank. He called me ‘idealistically misguided. We have all these humanitarianism efforts that don’t work. The only thing that works is giving money.’ Then why do we still have so many people food deficient and homeless?

How did you feel when you finally accomplished your lifelong dream?

It still feels purifying. I am a Stage 3 cancer survivor. I received the diagnosis in 2012. It is starting to come out of remission. I could die any time. There are no promises, but will leave something behind that will help others.

What advice would you give to others that are contemplating finally living their dream?

Once you start showing a record that you are not going to quit, there is no finish line. The reality is, a way will open up. Stay in the batter’s box and keep swinging at the pitches. It’s tough, hard, and you may be ridiculed.

If you have a vision, pursue it. Keep pushing. Something happens when you have a vision and you don’t quit on yourself.


To read more about Tony and Operation Just One Can, click here.

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