Everyone wants to give back, Erik Jorgensen makes it more than words
By Cory Carlyle
The beauty of Dallas resident Erik Jorgensen’s ‘20 Causes, 20 Days’ lies in its simplicity of how taking time out of one’s day to help someone else in need actually ends up benefiting both parties.
Jorgensen takes 20 days each summer and donates his time to 20 different Dallas-Fort Worth area charities. It’s a vehicle to inspire others in North Texas to donate their time to causes they are passionate about and show others they can indeed make a difference in other people’s lives.
20 Causes, 20 Days started in 2009 when Jorgensen was going through his late mother’s estate in Lake Tahoe, Nev. He recalled a conversation from when he was attending college and had gone to her home to pay a visit. Much like Jorgensen himself, his mother was not a morning person, but there was one of the days when she woke up in a great mood.
“I asked her why she was so chipper,” Jorgensen said. “She answered ‘Erik, I just had the best dream about you.’ I asked her what the dream was about and she replied, ’You were doing a lot of good to help a lot of people.’ She was usually a pretty straight-forward person, so when I asked what I was doing to help a lot of people, her response was a bit out-of-character. She said “you know what, Erik? I’m not going to tell you what you were doing. But just know that this is what I want from you in life and this is what will make me happy.’”
Since he was a college kid at the time, the power of her words did not resonate as they were likely intended. However, as he cleaned out her estate, he was able to relive their entire lives together courtesy of old pictures, drawings, mementos, and countless other memory-inducing artifacts. It was during this time that Jorgensen recalled this conversation.
“I began to think and explore possible ways to honor my mom’s dream,” he said. “Many things crossed my mind, but nothing really jumped out at me. That said, I also wanted to accomplish a few other personal goals at the same time. I wanted to challenge myself, do things that were far out of my comfort zone, do something that had never been done before and learn new things all while fulfilling my mom’s wish.”
He tried to think outside the box and come up with ideas that could possibly be in line with what his mother had envisioned. Then one day, it all clicked.
“One morning around Halloween 2009, I remember awakening suddenly at 6 a.m. and sitting up in bed. I said four words to myself that scared the crap out of me. 20 Causes, 20 Days,” he continued. “I said it again. The fact that it scared me so much made me realize that this was it. A project like this accomplishes everything that I wanted to accomplish personally, while ultimately fulfilling mom’s dream from that day in Tahoe.”
After successfully kicking off the project in Sacramento in 2009, Jorgensen would go on to blog about each experience with the various charities. He moved to North Texas after being offered the opportunity to be the in-stadium DJ for the Dallas Cowboys. In addition to his duties at AT&T Stadium, Jorgensen is the DJ for SMU football, the Central Hockey League champion Allen Americans and the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution and he has a full-time job.
While many people would justifiably consider this schedule to be a full plate, Jorgensen decided to relaunch his 20 Causes, 20 Days initiative in the DFW area last summer by reaching out to local charities and simply volunteering his time. Since he received 21 responses, Jorgensen opted to do a bonus 21st day rather than turn down the chance to lend his time to those less fortunate.
“A big thing I hope to accomplish with 20 Causes, 20 Days is to show people who may think that they don’t have any free time that if they just make the time to help others, it will be one of the most satisfying experiences of their lives,” Jorgensen said. “While last year’s (20 Causes) was amazing and very successful, this year the idea is to take things an entirely new level of investing time and energy in making your community and your life better.”
A new wrinkle added to this year’s initiative involves Jorgensen involving local people of note to join him and volunteer their time to causes of their choice. Once he has received the commitment of the people’s particular causes and times they are available, he will work alongside the charitable cause to set everything up and make it come to fruition.
Some of the causes Jorgensen volunteered his time to in 2013 included DFW Rescue Me, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center, Genesis Women’s Shelter, North Texas Food Bank, Mark-9 Search and Rescue, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, the Stewpot, Paws in the City, Trinity River Audubon Center, Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Prevent Blindness Texas, Dallas County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Texas Trees Foundation, VNA of Texas Meals on Wheels, and the Friends of Katy Trail.
A cause that has special meaning to Jorgensen is the American Diabetes Association-North Texas since that is the disease that took his mother’s life.
For further information and to be a part of the action, visit: 20causes20days.com