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How I Spent My Summer Vacation; Or, Do You Believe in Magic?

Being a nonprofit board member doesn’t have to be limited to fiduciary oversight and fundraising. James Hagy, a board member of Family Focus, added something a bit, say…magical! Family Focus is a Chicago nonprofit that provides innovative, community-based programs to help parents, grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents, gain confidence and competence as the primary educators of their children. 

Being a nonprofit board member doesn’t have to be limited to fiduciary oversight and fundraising. James Hagy, a board member of Family Focus, added something a bit, say…magical! Family Focus is a Chicago nonprofit that provides innovative, community-based programs to help parents, grandparents, and foster and adoptive parents, gain confidence and competence as the primary educators of their children. 

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For the past two months, Hagy and his wife, Sage, drove 2,500 miles to teach magic to 100 boys and girls at Family Focus centers throughout the Chicago area.

You see, Hagy and his wife worked with Family Focus’s executive director Kevin Limbeck and his team to create a new “Magic Camp.”  By the end of the summer, each participating student had a broad variety of tricks, organized in their own, personal magic suitcase that the student constructed and decorated in a different creative way.  Tricks were selected and adapted for each student, based on age level. At the end of the season, each center presented an invitational event, at which students performed for parents and guests. Afterwards, students took their magic kits home to perform for friends and perhaps continue their interest in magic (along with specially prepared instructions for their continued development and learning).

“Magic played what in retrospect was a very important part in my own development,” Hagy explained.  “From the time I was young, I made friends literally around the world who shared that interest.  And in my later law and speaking careers, the ability to present to even a large audience and keep their attention was something with which I was already experienced and comfortable.  Instead of making a rabbit appear or cutting an assistant in half every night, all I had to do was talk about law or business.  No elephants to hide, at least not literal ones.  We wanted to pass on the joy of that experience to these enormously enthusiastic and deserving students.”

Is Hagy a professional magician? Actually, Hagy ran the worldwide practice for a leading global law firm until he asked for early retirement a few years ago in order to teach law, speak and write for international business audiences, and perform local and national community service. He does perform magic in the U.S. and abroad and writes extensively about the history of performance magic.  He was a summer series speaker in London at the British Library, presenting his research about Harry Houdini.

So, how did you spend your summer? Remember, there’s always magic in volunteering.

 

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About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions.

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