Dreaming with Conviction

Everybody lives by faith.

It’s a bold statement, and some might disagree with me, but I believe that with every action and outcome, we understand the world through our beliefs in what we know to be true. It could be the belief that your car will get you from your house to the grocery store; the belief that eating a balanced diet and exercise will keep you healthy; the belief that you were meant to be an elementary school teacher, even when your job applications keep coming back as “denied.”

Everyday we live by our faith.

That faith is what inspires our dreams. And it’s the dreams that are backed by intention that come to fruition. The dreams where our passion is dripping through the cracks of the broken holes of our humanity, trying to fill the patches of pain with instances of joy.

When you believe with all your heart that you have the capacity to bring joy to this world, you are dreaming with conviction.

This summer, I had the chance to work with an amazing nonprofit organization called These Numbers Have Faces, a group working to empower South African youth through education. During my first week, I heard the story of a young South African woman named Busisiwe. After listening to her interview, my cheeks were flushed and my eyes remained fixed on the TV screen. Here was a girl, around my age, who lives halfway around the world - in a totally different culture, who has had a host of experiences that differ from my own - and yet, we share a connection. We are both orphans.

But the connection is more than just the mere fact that our families have both passed away when we were far too young. It is how we have dealt with our circumstances that truly connects us.

When Busisiwe spoke about her life, she began by talking about the things that she loves: singing, writing poetry, watching soccer. She is a young woman who sees abundant beauty in life, even when tragedies like death, disease and violence occur. Although Busisiwe lost her family members is different ways than I did, she talked about the importance of living each day by honoring them - honoring them with her will to survive, her drive to impact her community and rise up as a leader. Like her, I have a dream to impact my community in a positive way.

Currently, Busiswe is studying financial accounting at the University of Western Cape. Throughout her life, she has seen a world of poverty, crimes of hatred and blatant acts of injustice. She could choose the route of letting the world pass her by, sub cumming to the hardships of life and letting sin drown away the troubles.

But she’s not taking that route.

Busiswe has a dream - a dream to rise up and be a leader in her community. Through the pursuit of her education and her walk with God, she is showing the world what can happen when you live by faith.

While not all of us will face the death of our families when we are children, or watch our government discriminate against another race, simply because of differences in skin color, we all will face hardships that will test us, that will rattle our dreams and challenge us to see how strong our conviction really is.

Busisiwe has a dream. I have a dream. And I’m hoping you do, too.

As dreamers and people of faith, we have the chance to show our love and encouragement to those around us. It’s an honor and a privilege.

I can’t begin to describe how blessed I feel to know Busisiwe. Her conviction in her dreams is truly inspiring. Being able to support her through her university education is just one way of showing her that I too believe in her dreams. As a dreamer, I hope that you will stand with us in support of Busisiwe’s dream to change her community to a place of peace, love and joy.

Join us in raising Busisiwe’s college tuition, helping fuel her dream, that I have no doubt will go on to become a beautiful reality.

Check out more of the great work that These Numbers Have Faces is doing through their week long remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr.
Creating A Legacy - Supporting Education and Empowerment in South Africa

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17 SE 3rd, Suite #305 Portland, Oregon 97214
Be sure to put "Taylor Smith" in the memo line!

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Thank You!

Thank you so much for you support! I can't wait to see the look on Busisiwe's face when she hears that we raised the funds for her tuition.

Lets be in touch,


Thank You For Supporting Busisiswe!

Check out the wonderful people who have joined me to support Busisiswe

1. Alan Spiegelman, a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual Financial Network, has been a huge supporting figure in my life - helping me plan and invest in my future just as my Dad would have hoped. I consider Alan a mentor and role model. Thanks, Alan!

2. Callie Sendek, a senior studying at Scripps College in California, is one of my close friends from high school. She throws a bowling ball like an amazon, makes great Indian paneer and can make anyone laugh. Thanks, Callie!

3. Rachel Simms, a senior studying at University of Portland, is another one of my closest friends from St. Marys! During the summer 2009, Rachel went to Uganda and helped work with young children in a village community. She hopes to return on day soon and has a heart of gold. Thanks, Rachel!

4. Ellie Benson, is currently doing her student teaching here in Southern Indiana before she heads overseas to New Zealand! A member of the IU rowing team for her four years of undergrad, this young woman's ambition and kind spirit made her someone myself and fellow teammates looked up to. Thanks, Ellie!

5. Lindsay Olson, a senior studying at Whitman College in Washington, is a close friend from high school and someone who I consider a true "heart friend." Not only is she an extremely talented violinist and singer, but her ability to reach out to those around her in such a gentle, yet powerful way, is amazing. I value her respect so much. Thanks, Lindsay!

6. Annie Pettycrew, a senior studying at the University of Portland, is another member of my best group of friends from St. Mary's. She can throw a baseball like "one of the guys," has some of the best work ethic I've ever seen and is going to make a great teacher someday. Annie is someone you can always count on. Thanks, Annie!

7. Rachel McCaffrey, a senior studying at the University of Washington, is a friend from my graduating class at St. Mary's. We met during our freshman year on the volleyball team and since, she has served as an inspiration to so many as a symbol of strength. No physical challenge could ever stop this young woman. Thanks, Rachel!

8. Bryony Owen, studying at Portland State University, is another one of my best friends from high school. Bryony is one of those people who you have fun with no matter what you're doing. She is an encourager. Not only is she the best fan for every Portland sports team, but she's also right there to cheer on her sister at her high school volleyball matches. A wonderful baker and an amazing friend. Thanks, Bryony!

9. Catherine Correale, a senior studying at Loyola University in Baltimore, is an amazing friend I met through my study abroad program in Florence, Italy. She has a true love of Italian culture, is a flip-video expert and is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She is on track to pursue her international dreams and I couldn't be more happy for her. Thanks, Catherine!

10. Kerry Erwin, a senior studying at University of Oregon, is a friend of mine from St. Mary's. When you talk about someone being able to light up a room with their personality, this is the girl they're talking about. Kerry is vivacious, a leader and an amazing lacrosse player too! Thanks, Kerry!

11. David Dalla Gasperina, a senior studying at University of Montana, is a friend I've known since kindergarten! David is one of the most personable people you'll ever meet. He was an ASB officer in high school and is currently studying film production. I have no doubt he will go on to have great success in life. Thanks, David!

12. Mary Heberling, a senior studying at the University of Oregon, is one of my closest friends from high school. Mary has a heart for service and she is a very talented baker. I don't think there has ever been a time when I've been with Mary and didn't laugh. In fact, we have so much fun together that we plan to do the Amazing Race someday soon! Thanks, Mary!

13. Liz Orfaly, a senior studying at Oberlin College in Ohio, is my amazing roommate from my study abroad in Florence, Italy! Liz extremely adventurous and after spending every day together for four months, I can honestly say she is one of the most genuine people you will ever meet. So down to earth, gives great advice and is always helping others. She already is an incredible teacher and will only continue to inspire all of her future students. Thanks, Liz!

14. Rebekah Niedner, a senior studying at Indiana University, is one of my closest friends from college. If you ever want to receive an email that will make your day instantly brighter, ask Rebekah to send one to you - seeing one in my inbox always makes my day. She is a phenomenal R.A. and she is a truly accomplished young woman. I can't wait to see what amazing things she goes on to do. Thanks, Rebekah!

15. Amy Gartenberg, a senior studying at Indiana University, is my current roommate and one incredible friend! Her smile and laughter lights up a room. I am constantly absorbing her love and zest for life. She is a dreamer and her dreams are going to lead her to some wonderful adventures in life. I am so glad I get to be around her every day! Thanks, Amy!

16. George and Sally Rauch are my amazing godparents who I love so much. They live in beautiful Longboat Key, Florida and are always traveling to spend time with their kids, grandchildren and friends. I consider myself to me part of their family and couldn't image life without this compassionate and joyous family. Thanks, George and Sally!

17. Chuck Richards, whom I call my "Uncle Chuck", has been a role model in my life for as long as I can remember. As my Dad's best friend, he has been a part of my life since the day I was born. He's an Olympic athlete, has helped countless people achieve their athletic goals and is the epitome of a thoughtful person. I love him so much and consider him a second father to me. Thanks, Uncle Chuck!

18. Julie Raisch, a senior studying at NYU, is a very talented young woman I met 4 years ago at the conference for the United States Senate Youth Program in Washington D.C.! Our group is full of students who are driven and I have no doubt will play an influential role in our nation's future. Julie is definitely one of those people. Thanks, Julie!

19. Peter Slansky, a former teacher at Jackson Middle School in Portland, Oregon, is one of the best teachers I've ever had. Not only did he teach us things that you don't typically come across in textbooks, he also took the time to really know his students and help them grow as individuals. He's the type of teacher you'll never forget. Thanks, Peter!

20. Anna Almquist, a senior at Indiana University, is one of my closest friends from IU. She's the type of person who really listens. Her thoughtfulness makes you feel like you're worth remembering and she gives with her heart on her sleeve. She's a truly amazing young woman. Thanks, Anna!

21. Harry and Nancy, my uncle and aunt from Ft. Smith, Arkansas, are some of the kindest, most generous people you'll ever meet. They have permanent smiles across their faces and love spending time with family. I have learned so much from them about what it means to be part of a family and feel so blessed to be part of their lives. Thanks, Harry and Nancy!

About Me

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I'm a journalism student at Indiana University and love my family and friends. I have a passion for telling people's stories and think that the best place to develop strong relationships is around the family table.