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Could Your Family Hold A Clue That Will Help You Discover Your Purpose?

Dan Blakemore smiling.

This story is part of Heart at Work, a monthly series produced by and Echoing Green, in which we tilt the spotlight towards everyday people doing extraordinary work that makes the world a better place.

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Dan Blakemore spent 20 years researching his family’s history. He discovered that his great-great-great-great grandparents came over from Spain as brick masons, that a distant cousin was one of the first black members of the Ohio House of Representatives, and that one common theme stood out among almost all of his ancestors—a longstanding commitment to giving.

"Some time ago, I came across old newspaper clippings and photos of my grandmother presenting a check to kids to go to summer camp at the Glenville YMCA in Cleveland in 1962. As I did more research, I discovered that they were actively involved in nonprofits and giving. Going back three generations I realize that I am part of lineage of people who explore concepts like community and philanthropy."

"This discovery is important. I have a better understanding of my place in time and history. I didn’t pop out of clamshell. I am here because of the people who came before me. Everyone has someone in their family who has done something impressive. It will inspire you. It will make you think: If he can do it, I can do it."

Dan’s discovery has kept him committed to his work in what has recently been exposed as a difficult field: fundraising. A recent report revealed that half of all fundraisers want to quit. But Dan Blakemore—the Associate Director of Individual Giving at I-House who has been fundraising for six years and chronicles his experiences in his blog—plans to stay in fundraising and continue his family’s legacy.

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