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Paying it forward

The Soul of Santa: Christmas in Color – Joel Goldberg Media

Diversity / November 22, 2023

Paying it forward it something I believe strongly in.

Like I said in last month’s blog, the only constant in life is change. So inevitably, there will come a time for each of us when we could use some extra support. Whether the product of poor circumstances or decisions, nobody is immune to needing help sometimes…maybe even from a stranger. And there is no better way to show gratitude for your own good fortunes than to help others when you have the means and ability to do so.

paying it forward

Some may call it karma. Others will chalk it up to a force greater than themselves. Whatever rings true to you, one thing I know for certain is that paying it certain is something you can practice all year long. Though as the holidays draw near, many feel the calling to give even more than usual.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the season than by highlighting one interview in particular. It featured two guests who turned their mission to spread inclusion, cheer and gratitude into a year-log family affair. Tucker Lott and Dennis Powell Jr. are the civic-minded father and son-in-law duo behind The Soul of Santa.

paying it forward

As the Founding CEO and Executive Director, respectively, they have inspired a new tradition that empowers every person to practice the holidays authentically, regardless of color, creed or ability.

What’s more is that their approach to inclusion isn’t limited to a season. It’s a 365 day initiative that spreads the spirit and gratitude of Christmas all year long. And in doing so, creates a world where everyone is recognized for our similarities, and celebrated for our differences.

SINGLE: A Powerful Spirit

What is The Soul of Santa exactly?

In the secular context, it’s a self-proclaimed ‘Do Good’ Foundation that Tucker Lott established nearly three decades ago. He did it in response to the loneliness he remembered as a poor black child in a predominantly white Pennsylvania community. They plagued him all year, but became especially pronounced at Christmastime.

As gifts, Tucker received toys that were new-to-him, but previously used by someone else. His family bought its tree on Christmas Eve, when they were on sale at steep discounts. Tucker never forgot those experiences. So as an adult, paying it forward was important to him. He enjoyed a great deal of success in his career. Using the skills and education that helped him attain it, he decided to champion a cause that put inclusivity at the forefront…all year round.

“When God dropped into my spirit, the issue was looking inside of yourself. Finding out who you are so that you can contribute to the world,” Tucker recalled. “And when you find yourself, you find everybody else. Because that person that lives indoe of us doesn’t have color. That’s your spirit. That’s where your power is.”

When he put it all together, The Soul of Santa mission was realized. And it’s one he is still pursuing, even all these years later.

DOUBLE: Uncommon Success

I told Tucker and Dennis during our interview that it’s no uncommon to get father-son, father-daughter or mother-daughter business partners. But father and son-in-law? Not so much.

It would seem that Dennis’ lifelong dedication to paying it forward was one very important element of this rare business duo’s success.

“His passion to help people … really aligned with, you know, my upbringing,” he shared. “And so when the opportunity came to help with his [Tucker’s] vision … it was just an easy match.”

Paying it forward comes naturally to Dennis, who grew up helping different community groups, including many nursing home residents. “My passion for helping people really is what drives me to make this a success,” he told me.

Those who benefit from the work Dennis does at The Soul of Santa no doubt feel blessed to know him. But when it comes to service, the feelings of gratitude are all his.

TRIPLE: Good, Grateful Choices

The world we live in is far from perfect. But despite its shortcomings, opportunities to be grateful can be found everywhere if you’re willing to look.

It’s present in education, in faith and in the daily practice of gratitude. Through The Soul of Santa, Tucker has built a valuable platform for change. He’s paying it forward to those in need as much as the leaders of tomorrow.

“I don’t like to go back and think about what it was like. I like to see the progress,” Tucker said. “All we need now is to make sure these young people make good choices.”

HOME RUN: Spreading the Joy

Paying it forward doesn’t take anything more than good intentions, but some perspective never hurts.

During our interview, Tucker said to me, “You really have to go back to your roots – to go back to what’s in you – to be able to understand where we’re going.” He found this to be especially true recently when he returned to his alma mater in Bluffton, Ohio to give a speech.

Reflecting on the event, he remembered his own time there. As an undergrad in 1968, his class of 200 had only 11 black students. Now, the freshman class boasts 250 students of which 50% are black.

“It’s a journey,” Tucker said of witnessing that tremendous progress firsthand. “But at the end of the day, it’s really all about your choices.” At the end of every day, he chooses to listen to his spirit, paying it forward with gratitude for his blessings.

He chooses to remember those in underserved communities experiencing the same realities he did as a kid.

That woman in the grocery line without enough on her WIC card? He’ll buy her groceries, because he remembered his own mother struggling to put food on the table. Kids at Christmas? They all deserve new toys, unlike what he had.

“My game and my aim is to level the playing field a little bit,” Tucker said of his mission. Paying it forward is just what The Soul of Santa does. Spreading the joy of Christmas to all in need, one act at a time…365 days of the year.

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Tuesday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

Are you interested in The Soul of Santa sponsorship programs? Click below to learn more.

Learn More About Paying it Forward from Joel

Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.


Full Transcript:

Joel Goldberg 0:12
Hey everyone welcome in to another episode of Rounding the Bases presented by Community America Credit Union. I’m Joel Goldberg. It’s amazing how the the year and the years fly by the days, the weeks, the months, the years and we’re getting into the holiday season. But whether you listen to this around the holiday season or all year long, this is an episode, especially here in Kansas City, that really highlights making a difference all year long. A quick shout out to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City: Making Connections That Matter. If you’re in the market for a new job or hiring someone or just looking for a resource. I love collaborating with these men and women over at Chief of Staff. So check them out, even if you’re not in Kansas City. chiefofstaffkc.com. Making connections that matter. They get that they get relationships, they get culture. And the two gentlemen that I have on today certainly fall under that label. As the holidays do draw near we feel the callings of family and giving even more than other times of the year. So what better way to kick off the season then with two guests who turn their mission to spread good cheer into a family affair. It started with Tucker Lott. Tucker Lott and Dennis Powell Jr. are the civic minded father and son-in-law duo behind The Soul of Santa as the founding CEO and Executive Director, respectively. They have inspired a new holiday tradition that empowers every person to celebrate authentically, regardless of color, creed or ability. But their celebration of inclusion isn’t limited to a season. It’s a 365 day initiative to spread the spirit of Christmas and create a world where everyone is recognized and loved for the differences that add color to our world. And I will tell you what if we don’t need more of that 365 days a year, I don’t know what we need. The world could always use more good. I’m joined right now by Tucker and Dennis. Gentlemen, how are you?

Tucker Lott 2:19
Great. Very happy to be here.

Dennis Powell 2:22
Yeah. Happy to talk to Joel Goldberg.

Joel Goldberg 2:24
Well, we’re I and my team happy to, to highlight what you both are doing and what began many years ago with with Tucker’s endeavors. And I think sometimes we’ll get to the Father-Son team, the Mother-Daughter team. The Father-Daughter team. We don’t always have a lot of Father -Son-in-Law type of teams, which I guess Tucker means you like your son-in-law?

Tucker Lott 2:51
I guess that’s what it means. It’s been a joy. I’ve known him for several years now. Prior to him becoming my son-in-law. So it was a good match. Very smart, very intelligent, young man. And I’m happy to have him involved.

Joel Goldberg 3:06
I’ll tell you what, I don’t know that my father-in-law is listening. But I will say, Dennis, that it’s nice when you could like your in-laws, isn’t it? Lucky.

Dennis Powell 3:18
I hear a lot of horror stories, man. So I’m truly blessed for sure.

Joel Goldberg 3:21
I should clarify, I get along really well with my in-laws and have for 24 plus years. So that was not an, I’m envious or jealous of you guys, but I know that a lot of people are and it is nice to have that extended family or that family, but then to work together. And to work on something that has so much meaning and purpose in life has to be such a blessing for the two of you to share that. Before I get into all of what you’re doing, and you know, Tucker, how you started this, I want to know, Dennis, from your perspective, because you came in along the way why this meant so much to you and what it was like to pivot in your career, which could have gone a lot of different ways.

Dennis Powell 4:01
Yeah. So like Tucker said, I’ve known him for several years and was really inspired by his passion to help people and it really aligned with you know, my upbringing. You know, helping nursing homes help with different things throughout my life. And so when the opportunity came to help with his vision and help, you know, this particular community, which was inspired by, and Tucker will touch more on that, but inspired by his daughter, Aria, I was, you know, I brought in quickly and it was just it was easy match, like you said. And my passion for helping people really is what drives me to make this a success. You know, this particular community interest has a lot of talents, a lot of things offered, they just need resources and so I’m glad to, trying to help amplify that and make sure they get the help that they need. So.

Joel Goldberg 4:49
Alright, Tucker, let’s go back to the beginning. You had an incredibly successful career yourself, but many, many years ago, you decided to start this which I know like anything else that’s been around this long it evolves it grows, it becomes more than even what it was when you started, maybe for better, or for worse for probably much more for better. But with that comes a lot of a lot of everything. Right? What what, tell me about how you started this, why you started it and what it was back then?

Tucker Lott 5:19
Well, I’ll tell you, it started very simply. The Soul of Santa Do Good Foundation, Soul of Santa brand started, like 27 years ago. But whenever God dropped that into my spirit, it took me back to back to my childhood. And so I remember the times in western Pennsylvania and a little town called New Brighton, where I sat in a classroom by myself the only person of color in there. And I wondered what my fit was, you know. And so obviously, the other kids were had more than I had, at the time, we had a big family. We were poor. My mother was doing domestic work. So I sat in there thinking about, you know, how I could be better how I contribute to the world, and take what I was learning in education wise, and everything else, and take it with me on a long journey. So I immediately thought back about that, how lonely it was. And I said, inclusivity meant everything. And so I felt included with my group. There, even though they didn’t look like me, because I was a kid. But when I go flip, fast forward and go back, and I say it’s a different field. So I believed at that point in time when God dropped in my spirit, that the issue was looking inside yourself, finding out who you are, so that you can contribute to the world. And when you find yourself, you find everybody else, because the person that lives inside of us doesn’t have color, you know, is when you look outside is when we see delineations and coloring. That that doesn’t mean anything is that’s your spirit. Because that’s where your power is. And that’s where you make your choices from. And that’s what it was for The Soul of Santa. So when I put all that together, then I got on a mission. And I’m still on a mission.

Joel Goldberg 7:15
I was gonna say all these years later, and now I believe in your 70s. And, and still going hard going strong. And I think that I think that’s it? Well, there’s a lot to unpack there. Actually, Tucker, I mean, the, the first is that, you know, if you guys are working on this 365 days a year, the the piece about seeing color, or not seeing color, and seeing the good in everyone feels to me like a 24/7 need activity, if you want to call it that, it’s necessary. There’s, and maybe it’s been this way since the beginning of time, maybe we go backwards before we take steps forwards, it feels like right now the world is a tougher place than it’s ever been. Maybe I’m over exaggerating that maybe I’m seeing too much of the news and the social media and the negative. But it seems to me Dennis, like, you guys have the ability to be busy every single day.

Dennis Powell 8:17
Absolutely. It, like you said, it becomes a lifestyle, it becomes the way you go about, you know how you perceive things, how you react to things. And so you always see a need for somebody to get help, like you’re at the store or wherever you’re at. When you have that mindset, you start to see those opportunities. And so, like you said, it’s all year round, we really embody the 365 tagline, you know, do good 365 because it’s needed, like you were saying, and so, you know, it’s something that, like I said, just being around Tucker, hearing him talk, seeing how he acts, you can’t help but be inspired. And so it’s truly been like I said, great working with him on it.

Joel Goldberg 8:56
And there’s so much to do too. I mean, if I go back to Tucker, or even if we look at it now like there are a lot of really good organizations, whether it be here in Kansas City or any city that you go to, for that matter that are doing good. And especially during the holiday season when you start looking at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa. That time of year, where you want to take care of people, whether it be with food, whether it be with clothing, but this is so much more than that. What has this evolved to, Tucker?

Tucker Lott 9:32
Well, it’s evolving into something that you made a good point. You really have to go back to your roots. You have to go back to what’s in you to be able to understand where we’re going. I mean, I went to I did a speech last weekend at my colleagues at Bluffton, Ohio and, and I spoke to the the incoming freshman class and I’ve looked So I graduated, and I was starting college in ’68. So when I got there, there was a class of about 200 kids or freshman class, and 11 of us were black minority. And so we had to boycott that school during that period of time. So they would hear us, because we felt like we were bringing something. So when you look at that, it’s like, you know, it’s a journey. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. So when I got up there the other day, I looked out there, and there were 250 new students. And it was almost 50%, black. I say, Whoa, that changes the dynamic of everything that I’m going to do and say, but at the end of the day, it’s really all about your choices. So I choose to listen to my spirit. So that lady in line looks like she’s struggling. And she runs her WIC card, and they don’t, she didn’t have enough money. I pay for it. You know, because God has blessed me to do so. It’s been a hard journey. Because I remember being dirt poor, I remember what it felt like. I remember Christmases, and not having a Christmas tree until the last minute, that was broken down laying on the parking lot, because they were done trying to sell trees. That’s what we decorate. So I get it. I remember the toys that, used toys from Salvation Army and anywhere wlse we can get them. But it felt new to me. So I will my game, my game and my aim is to level the playing field a little bit. But don’t forget about those in the underserved communities that still haven’t experiences like I had when I was a kid.

Joel Goldberg 11:37
I’m curious about that, too. I mean, you talked about looking out and seeing 50% were black. Yeah. And then you talk about your early experiences, and oftentimes being the only person of color in a room. Do you see that as progress in the midst of all the negativity out there?

Tucker Lott 11:58
Well, absolutely, positively. I mean, that’s really what it is. You can’t color it any other way. No pun intended. And so I looked at the audience, in this case, I’m sorry, you guys don’t realize the opportunity you have. It’s a different time, right? They don’t really understand what it was like, for us back then. But that’s why we build the blocks and bring it bring it to where we are. So I turned around and looked at the the the administration and the professors, and I said same thing. With you is an opportunity. There are not the same people that I had way back when, who had limited exposure, coming from rural Ohio, cornfields and all. I get it, I understand that the some of them feeling like we invaded their territory, so to speak. But you know, you know, education is for all, you know, joy and happiness for all, you know, if you find Christ, he’s for everybody. So I’ve always been that guy, you know, and I will always be that person. And so I don’t like to go back and think about what it was like, I see the progress. And so all we need now is to make sure these young people make good choices, you know, and choose to be good 365. That’s what’s that’s my thing. You know?

Joel Goldberg 12:58
I think it’s so interesting to me, while I have both of you on here together, this is such that I love talking about the difference in generations. Because really, if we can’t embrace those differences, then we’re not going to get anywhere. I mean, unless you’re working in a profession or in a world where it’s only Millennials, or only baby boomers, or only gen…now it’s all Gen Z coming up, right? And you know, Dennis, you’re I’m guessing a millennial, if we’re gonna label these things. I’m a Gen X. But, you know, I always say that I’m working in a world, at least in the job that that gets a lot of attention in baseball, where the athletes are 23, 24, 25 years old, coming from all different walks of life in the United States, Venezuela because of Salvador Perez, a massive Venezuelan influence here. By the way, Salvador Perez in his 30s in Venezuela is different than a 20 something now coming out of it. That’s across the board. And so I have to know how to connect with a 23 and a 24 year old and yes, or am I different than them? Of course, I was different than my parents generation. And so I’m curious, Dennis, what you’re seeing and working alongside of your father-in-law, working alongside of a mentor and such a man of great influence, and what those differences are generationally?

Dennis Powell 14:41
Yeah, absolutely. And so, I mean, you touched on something key, like being able to learn from the different perspectives and so I you know, I’m over the youth department, I work with you. So I tap into that, like you said, Tucker, with his experience and knowledge and and different things that he went through and different parts of the country right? Because he’s on East Coast compared to them, you know, so just being able to listen to learn to kind of think about how ways that people view things can either make what you do different, you know, either for better or for worse, okay, well, I don’t want to go that direction, because this happened, that type of thing. So just being able to have conversations with people, but also observed, you know, I’ve learned a lot just by being around and seeing what’s going on. And so, like I said, the way he interacts with people is not just when he knows people, like he doesn’t know, people see what he does all the time. And so that kind of perspective on how he goes about things impacts me, right. So, like you said, just being able to pull from his knowledge to look at what I’ve been through to pull from the younger generations, even my own fears, has, I think, made me a well rounded person and being able to adapt kind of like you were saying, to whatever situation I’m in whoever I’m dealing with. So it’s been it’s been a great experience. And I, I know that I have a lot to learn. But I’ve learned a lot. So I’m excited about that.

Joel Goldberg 16:00
I love that. And I think the one thing that transcends time, that passes the test of time, there’s a quote on The Soul of Santa website, by the way, and it’ll be the website will be in our show notes, Soulofsanta.org. And there’s a lot of really cool stuff on there, a quote from Tucker that says, look inside yourself and find yourself and you will see The Soul of Santa is the spirit in you. And he’s the spirit in me, we all have that spirit inside us. I think Tucker touched on that before, that doesn’t go away from generation to generation, maybe it’s the way that we communicate. Maybe it’s the way you know, I mean, nowadays, it may be via social media, it may look awkward when you started this, there weren’t websites or anything like that, we knock on doors, we did things the old fashioned way. I’m in between you guys on age a little bit closer to Dennis, but, you know, I look at the way television or anything has changed over the years. And now you have to have that social media presence and all that. So it’s not picking up the phone and calling the younger generation. That might be a text, it might be an Instagram message. But I do think it’s in everyone’s heart. What I want to do before we hit the baseball theme questions is just talk about some of the programs that are going on and, and really focus for a minute on The Do Good Foundation and the inspiration behind that. And if you could talk a little bit about that. Dennis and or either one of you or Tucker, really, it probably should come from Tucker. And, and the the meaning behind it and the legacy that’s been left behind.

Tucker Lott 17:33
Well, let me let me start it off. Because our mission early on a couple of years back really was about, you know, the underserved communities and bringing joy and happiness. You know, clothing people, feeding children, providing toys, and that continues to be a focus. But my daughter Aria, who has since passed, she just died August 21st of last year. So it’s new, it’s fresh. And she was a battler. She had epilepsy ever since he was nine years old. I remember finding her on the floor in my basement. And at that time, she was having petit mal seizures, and she just glare at you. But then we found out what it was. And ultimately, she began having grand mal seizures. And that plagued her through her education at college and chiropractic school. So much so that she just couldn’t finish. So I gave her, my wife and I, we gave her… put her in God’s hands. Because you know, even if you have epilepsy, if you have seizure free in six months, in most jurisdictions, you can still drive. And so she was an achiever, Aria was just a downright smart, intelligent, beautiful spirit person. And nothing much slowed her down, not even epilepsy. So after a number of years of going through all that she ended up back here a few years ago. And she finally is like, you know, Iman and Dennis had gotten married and my son had gotten married, it was time to be back around family. So she could have those memories. But we didn’t know they were gonna be short. So what she did was talk to us and then as an I and family about you know, the mission of our foundation and it needs needed to be a little bit fuller and you know, focus in on people like her. High functioning adults with with who are differently abled with disability one way or another, and to help them with find resources to survive because we had to do that for her. Take her to work. She just, especially at teaching her last few years. And so there were many, many challenges for her. But I’ve never seen anybody come up from the ashes like her ever in my life except her mother. Her mother’s had three, two bouts with cancer, quadruple bypass. She’s still going on, you know? So all those things drive me and drove us to find the put the foundation and spirit of where we are right now. And from that point, I’ll let Dennis, Dennis take over.

Joel Goldberg 20:13
Yeah. And I mean, it sounds to me like Aria had her grandmother’s spirit in her. And now you get to carry that among among the many things that Soul of Santa is is doing. Dennis, tell me about the ACE program.

Dennis Powell 20:26
Yeah, I’m really excited about the ACE program. It’s in honor of Aria. So it’s the Aria Camille Empowerment Program. So you’re talking about my experience and my career, but nothing gives me more joy than this work. And so this particular program is it’s a personalized, holistic workforce development program. So what we do is we we help again, like Tucker mentioned, individuals that are high functioning, so able to work or live independent, but have disabilities. We want to help them if they want to pursue higher education, if they want to pursue being a business owner, or if they want to go to trade school, whatever it may be, we have a program design where they can apply. We provide $1,000 either scholarship, or grant, depending on what field they’re going into. But it’s not just that. It’s wrap around. So we set up with a mentor, I check in on on myself, you know, to make sure they have what they need. So if it’s, Hey, I need some clothes for school, I don’t, you know, I don’t have things to wear, or hey, I need help with transportation, hey, you know, we focus on the whole person. So they’re like, I want to eat healthier, I want to figure out how to get my, you know, my together because yoga or counseling, whatever resource they need, we become a hub for them. And it’s really designed to eliminate common stressors, right? And think about things that like food, what I’m gonna eat, when we’re gonna, where we’re removed barriers to entry to the workforce, and set them up for success. So the ACE Program, like I said, they can people can apply now. You know, we’re, we’re up and running, we have three people that have already applied in the last two weeks that are up and running. So we, you know, we’re here to help. Like I said, this is, this is probably the so far in my life. In my career, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever been able to be a part of. So, yeah.

Joel Goldberg 22:14
Well, that’ll be, that’ll be Dennis’s home run, we’ll get we’ll get what we got, oh, it’s so it’s so good when you, I don’t care what age you are, when you can find that purpose. And someone will be willing, because not everybody has that opportunity to do that. And then to be able to help others. There are so many different elements of Soul of Santa that I can hit on. And I’ll try to get to some of them briefly. But let’s talk about about The Soul of Santa letters to Santa. And what what December is like, Tucker for you?

Tucker Lott 22:49
Well, you know, we’re in a December mode now, you know, and so it’s a, it’s fluid, but it is necessary and is ongoing, because it kind of fuels the rest of what we do for the remainder of the year afterwards, and so on and so forth. So it’s been an evolving thing. So we’re getting geared up for you know, the the concert that we have, the trees that we bring in from out of the state. While we’re doing this, we’re we’re hiring and we’re contributing back to the economy because we’re paying people to do their skills, decorators and all that good stuff. So it’s an it’s, it’s slamming right about now, the concert and the benefit that we’re going to this year. I let Dennis jump on it, he’s talking about all that stuff. But you know, we prepared for this time, we have built the brand, built the awareness. And now we are preparing to get help to carry the mission forward. Go ahead and take it, Dennis.

Dennis Powell 23:53
Yeah, so, so the letters of Santa that you had mentioned. So we have a monthly Assistance Program as well right so people can apply. Again, that’s where the community interest there so individuals with disabilities, so that’s monthly, we try to pick some people to help in addition to the ACE program. We also have like you said, the food pantry the food distribution, we visit school, so we’re 365 But as far as the holiday events, our annual Holiday Extravaganza events. So we have two Tree Lighting ceremonies in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. And then the shops on Blue Parkway. We have some 40 foot plus trees this year. We have attractions you know we have we’ve tried to do a petting zoo different things like that where people can come out and really experience holiday season. And then we have a benefit concert Tucker was mentioning this featuring the world renowned Kansas City jazz legend Linen McFadden. He has some special surprises as well that are going to be part of the show but that that is our staple fundraising event. So that is a ticketed event but the tree lightings and then we do a Breakfast at each location that’s free for the community that Saturday morning where we give away toys and clothing. People can take pictures with The Soul of Santa. So those are our holiday events. And like Tucker said, they’d be wild, they’d grown, they’re getting exponentially better as we learn and grow. So this year is gonna be the best one yet so.

Joel Goldberg 25:20
And I believe if we’re still on scheduling wise, I’ve got on my calendar December One for the tree lighting,

Dennis Powell 25:28
Is it December 1, that would be the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District. So the tree lighting, the attractions and everything is starting around five o’clock, then we’ll have the light switch at 630. So yeah, it’s gonna be exciting.

Joel Goldberg 25:42
I am planning on meeting you guys out there for that. Last thing, before we get to the baseball theme questions. You touched on it a little bit, Tucker, in terms of helping people out on a monthly basis in terms of food, cars, you name it, too. Can you just expand on that a little bit in terms of this 365 Because I just want to, again, reiterate that this is not a December type of thing. It is a December type of thing. It’s also a January, February, March and April and on and on. And if you could maybe expand on, on the vast array of what Soul of Santa is doing?

Tucker Lott 26:17
Well, like Dennis mentioned, one of the major things we do is we feed people on a monthly basis and a food pantry. And weekly basically food brands, we partner with the church, and the Calvary Chapel Church, Gordon Christ. On East side, we’re focusing we focused in on the east side of Kansas City, really downtown factors over and so that has become big. But I’ll tell you something had happened to me today. While looking at Facebook, or whatever I was looking at, I saw a post from a young lady who I’ve known for a number of years, or in our family. And she was celebrating her success in getting a full time job for Kansas City public schools. But this child is deaf. And I’ve known it and known her sister who’s I believe is partially deaf for ever since I’ve been here, since ’95. And not like, my goodness gracious. I’ve missed something here. So that’s my biggest small win because I wrote her. I told her, I said we want to be a part of your journey, because I’ve known her journey. But it was right in front of my face all the time. But those are the things that inspire me because I got other stories like that right in front of your face, you have an opportunity almost every day to help someone and be effective with it. So but I’ll let Dennis fire on fire away because he does a fascinating.

Dennis Powell 27:46
Well, no, I mean, I don’t know if you can see for Christmas and call it 365. That’s, I mean, the spirit of giving in the spirit of you know, you think about the holiday season. Everybody’s excited you glad to be around family, think about precedents, but we want to bring that feeling all year round. And so like you were saying, the opportunities that we have to touch people, to be a part of their success, to see them get the resources they need. That’s ongoing. Like I said, we have these different programs that people can apply for on our website. But like I said, we’re here to help. You know, that’s, it’s not just talk, we back it up with action. And like I said, we’re here all year.

Tucker Lott 28:24
And we’re partnering with people with other foundations and other not for profits and for-profit places, for that matter, to gather toys. We’ve gone through, what is it the toys with Toys for Tots and last couple of years COVID, that’s changed. So we have to come out of pocket and get all that stuff. So we’re looking for all the help we can get with that. And we’ll we’ll have we’re going to probably put up a couple of collection events around the city, as well. So we always can use that kind of help. But we want people to participate in what we’re doing. And see what we’re doing this event this year is going to be one for the record books.

Joel Goldberg 29:02
And I’ll again remind everybody, no matter when you’re listening to this, if you happen to be in the Kansas City area, and your first listening to this in March or April, just go to the website soulofsanta.org. Right? And that is very easy to find once you’re on there, and you can see the story and the videos and everything but but but there are opportunities right within the website to learn how to volunteer. So I want to encourage everybody to do that. No matter what it is support this incredible organization that is doing so many amazing things in the community. Let’s get to the baseball themed questions and and we’ll go to to the founder here. The OG in terms of The Soul of Santa. What’s the biggest homerun you’ve hit along the way?

Tucker Lott 29:49
Well, you know, it’s big homeruns come from small actions to me, You know what I mean? And whenever I I, I landed the prize when God dropped into my spirit, The Soul of Santa. And the meantime, I’m you know, I’m struggling in business, I’m getting a business because I have a packaging business, service oriented business, my partner and I founded 21 years ago. And we’ve made it through, and we’ve done very well with it. But this one, God dropped this into my spirit, I went directly to somebody I was mentoring to at the time, who said, Mr. Mr. Lott, I know an artist that could probably bring your vision to life. And when he did that, all of a sudden, we had The Soul of Santa, and that picture right there, behind us, right there. Right there. Anyway, when I saw it, I knew I had hit the homerun. I just didn’t know I’d be playing ball for the rest of my life. You know what I’m saying. And so the things that we have going on right now are just, you’re going to hear about is going to be really, really big. And, and I will tell you that on the website, there’s music and a number of other things. But we’re getting ready to put together a Christmas album, we’re putting together Christmas out with help a few people, it’s going to be amazing. And it’s not just my daughter’s singing, there’s going to be some other independent singers from Kansas City, who are going to show up to and other parts of the country. Don’t get me wrong. So I mean, my you know, I get highlight reels every day from this, but that’s my biggest and my best.

Joel Goldberg 31:34
It’s a great one. And of course, along the way, you’re gonna swing and miss sometimes the best of them do, how about a swing and a miss? And what did you learn from it?

Tucker Lott 31:43
My swing and miss was before I understood who I was. And that’s when I spoke to the kids about it at the college. I was a mess. Whenever I was 18. I was smart, though. I mean, people didn’t see that. But in retrospect, I started my freshman year, I started my sophomore year, married with a child, my ex-wife, pregnant mother in college. And then I had the baby in January, the following year 1970. And in February, I got a phone call and I had another child. So I started out my career, I mess with children, and I wanted to go to school to have fun. But here I am with all this to do. Right. So that happened that continue to be a selfish motivation for me until I was 30. And then I changed my life. It’s about choices. I made bad choices.

Joel Goldberg 32:39
We all have. And, again, it’s what you do with it. And you look at what’s going on now how about the big one that I always love to ask small ball. And I’ll ask it to both of you. I’ll begin with Dennis and then we’ll go over to Tucker and Tucker Well, both of you really have alluded to so much of small ball, everything you’re doing is small ball to me. Dennis, what a small ball to you?

Dennis Powell 33:01
I mean, every action matters, right? And so how you treat people, how you talk to people, how you respond to things, even your mindset. Everything is important. And so, you know, I was always taught to respect people to, you know, say yes or no, sir. Things like that. And so I always treat people how I would like to be treated. And so when you think about small ball, think about the things you’re taught growing up. You know, a lot of people it’s in one ear and out the other, right? Its cliches, but it really matters. Like what you do matters how people, you know, see you respond matters. And so I just think about the mistakes I’ve made in life, mainly in corporate America, right not knowing as a young person, how to react, how to respond, but learning from that, and knowing you know, that whatever you do each day matters. And so that’s, you know, I said, that’s what small ball means to me. And the small actions lead to homeruns.

Joel Goldberg 33:54
I love it. Tucker, how about you?

Tucker Lott 33:57
Well, he said, a mouthful there. And I go back and I go back to New Brighton, Pennsylvania, where it all began for me. And I look around that town, I look around that shack of a house that remains that we grew up in all that good stuff. And I think about the fact that, you know, they kept the city, the administration in the city kept us secluded from other opportunities. But I have to go back and realize that this is where it all began for me. Yeah, it was a young man. And so when you look forward in life is like there are a lot of those small towns, small balls played all the time. Same thing I’ve seen I saw in Ohio when I came through that. And so I look at the microcosm that it presents, and I look at people the same way. There’s…there’s small ball in Kansas City, Kansas. This month, all of Kansas City, it was everywhere I go. What I found out is that if no matter where you go, know how big the venue is, you can always find something good in it, that can help you and prepare you for the rest of your life. And that’s what there’s been a series of wins for me too.

Joel Goldberg 35:12
I love that. That’ll never change, by the way, either just got to, we’ve got to be paying attention to it, we got to always be looking, there are stories to tell, again, 365 days a year. And I know that’s what both of you are able to do. Before we get out of here for final questions with Tucker. And Dennis, as we round the bases, let’s begin with this one. And I’ll throw this out to both of you. It’s not just the two of you. This is fully a family affair. If you look at the website, and you see all the members of the family that are involved. Tucker, how do you keep everybody happy?

Tucker Lott 35:47
Well, I do what everybody wants. You know, my wife says, you know, you need to delegate more. So I delegate. You need to lower the prices, so I lower the prices, or whatever you got to do. It’s just a matter of finding meeting people where they are and give them something that they can, that will motivate them to keep fighting, which is my vision. My kids remind me that it’s your vision. But ultimately, they’ve all come around. And that’s how we have a family affair going on. And that’s the way it’s gonna stay.

Joel Goldberg 36:18
Dennis, how about for you? I guess just follow with the big man says, right?

Dennis Powell 36:22
Yeah, I’m still learning. I’m still learning how to make sure. Especially, you know, like he talked about with the spousal relationship, man, like, just do it. Do what the wife says, I’m still learning to.

Joel Goldberg 36:37
Please the wife first. And then make sure you please her father. While you’re at it, make sure you please her mother, maybe that not even before dad? Yeah, he’s been around long enough. I get it. I’m just not in business with with my family. You are. Alright. The second question I want to ask this to either or both of you. But what when you whatever it is, but when you give somebody a car, or check or close anything, I the feeling. I know this having been around so long, that we all get just as the donor as the giver as the messenger as the person that’s bringing it all together, sometimes feels better for us than it even does to them. What’s that reaction like? Tucker, when suddenly someone that hasn’t been able to drive, maybe they’ve had to ride their bike or walk everywhere and take the bus, and suddenly they have their own wheels? I think a lot of us can take that for granted. A lot of us do take that for granted. What do you see? What do you hear?

Tucker Lott 37:39
Now tell you something. And that’s that’s a big one, because two things. Number one, Aria drove for a number of years. And she finally had to understand that she could not drive. It wasn’t good. But we were on the telephone with her one day, my wife and I and my man and his wife. And we were telling me she was in Dallas. And she was going to a second job, which is not good. Because stressful. Long story short, we’re getting off the phone, the phone went quiet. And we heard the parent cry, which is from epilepsy. And nothing else. It went quiet. We went from praying for five minutes, to screaming and hollering. And all of a sudden, we heard a voice say, Ma’am, are you you’re gonna be okay. I’m a Christian. God is with you, you know. So I do not take for granted the ability to drive. Alright, when she got here, she had to transport her. And she talked to the KCATA we’re trying to find ways to help people like her, they can’t get around, because driving is a major thing. Transportation is key. And so that’s one of the motivations. So we plan to focus in on that strongly for the years to come. So when I gave a car to a couple of guys, I was it was joyful to see the relief because they were challenged with being able to get one and then they had one, and then the rest becomes history. So and then on to the next one. That’s where I That’s why. That’s why.

Dennis Powell 39:18
I’ll say it’s energizing man like, like to see somebody that has been like he was saying like, a need has been met. Right? So now it’s like I can I can take that stress off my plate. I have, they they’re now inspired because they know that somebody cared enough to help them. So to see that to be a part of that is energized and like you said, you see Tucker man, he’s you think he’s 50 man like he’s still going, that type of interaction and engagement. It gives you the motivation to keep going and continue to help more people.

Joel Goldberg 39:49
I love it. Third question as we round the bases. I’ll ask this one to you Dennis. Just looking at the pictures and and maybe I’ll get a chance to see it in person this holiday season. Tucker, to me looks Like the, the, the most suave, dapper looking Santa’s that I’ve ever seen. You don’t need a beard or anything, but he got the good reds suit and the red shoes and all that. How was he a Santa?

Dennis Powell 40:13
Man, he’s the coolest man in the world, man, you just said it, man, The Soul of Santa, I mean, just the image of them. Like when my children seeing them, it’s like, Man, there is not what they expect. And they get excited, man, they love taking pictures with them, the community loves The Soul of Santa. So just I mean, you know, he used the model back in the day, and he so he carries it with him when he’s wearing the seal. So, I mean, it’s really to be a part of a unique brand like this and see how it inspires people. And like I said, even him as as a different field. But the same spirit right there saying giving spirit that same feel of the holiday, but in a different ways is, its exciting to see.

Joel Goldberg 40:57
I guess Tucker, you still got it, huh?

Tucker Lott 41:00
I guess that’s what they tell me, and I’ll receive that.

Joel Goldberg 41:04
Listen, if they want to say it, I’ll jump on board to if they want to say it, that’s all you can do is receive it, there are a lot worse things to receive no doubt about it. And then to think the impact that makes on the kids. And by the way, too. I mean, I want to continue to encourage everybody to go to the website, soulofsanta.org on there, too. If you click on the tab store, and just the holiday season, whether it’s buying some holiday cards, or there’s certainly you know, anything from ornaments to sweatshirts, and aprons and on and on. It’s really cool. And I know Tucker referred to that, that logo that that game changing home run. It’s all over the website. And it’s all within that store. It’s really cool stuff. So I want to encourage everybody to do that. If you’re looking for some, some some nice holiday gifts, that will also end up helping towards everything that they’re doing it basalts and the final question is, the big one is to walk off. And I know that this never ends, but to both of you. What’s next, or what’s left to be done, because I know it never ends. What are some big long term goals for both of you?

Tucker Lott 42:12
You can go first.

Dennis Powell 42:14
I mean, for me just expanding the ACE program to help as many people as possible. You know, like I said, we’re like you say a family run organization, we’re getting started. But my goal is to help you know, 50, 60, 70 people next year, right, and continue to grow that number so that we can see more young people have opportunities to succeed, to feel heard, to feel seen, you know, one of our statements, tools, I mean, we want nobody to ever feel overlooked because of their disability. And so to help as many people as possible, is my long term goal.

Tucker Lott 42:52
For me, as I reflect on this whole journey, there’s a lot more to come. And I can tell you this, that when God gave that vision to me, when he dropped it in my spirit, he gave it to me and nobody else. Nobody else has The Soul of Santa but us. And what he also told me, that is going to be a global impact. And so when you look inside yourself and understand your spirit, all that good stuff. It has the potential of you know, expanding the globe. But how do you get it there by continuing to be diligent about what we’re doing, taking care of where you’re at, and telling people who tell people and tell people, but we have in store already committed a complete script, and everything for The Soul of Santa movie is going to happen. And that’s going to be the linchpin that really propels us, because it’s going to be a story of your spirit, and about helping people. And that’s what that’s the home run for me for real. And we’re in negotiations discussing the financing of that right here in Kansas City.

Joel Goldberg 44:11
With much more to come, there’s always there will always be rooms, or more homeruns and more chapters. And I know that that is coming. And so, gentlemen, to both of you, to your family, and also the incredible legacy and memory of Aria and the work that you’re doing in your daughter’s name. Tucker, I appreciate it. Thank you for spending time again, soulofsanta.org for anyone that wants to volunteer by something, donate something, get involved 365 days a year, and certainly during the holiday season. It’s such a great time to be able to do that. And so gentlemen, I appreciate it Tucker Lott. Dennis Powell Jr. Thanks for spending time and for all that you’re doing.

Dennis Powell 44:59
Thank you very much.

Tucker Lott 45:00
Really appreciate the opportunity.