As the shock of suddenly social distancing wears off and the weeks of pandemic turn into months, we feel the loss of our ties to work, family, and friends. Now, right in the middle of this world-wide crisis, we're all trying to find our new normal. We recently caught up with our friend Keith, and he shares his story and how he's rebuilding his community today. 

Hey Keith! Tell us who you are and what you do!

My name is Keith Sampson. I am originally from Maryland, outside of Washington DC and came to Indiana in 1995 to attend Grace College. Since graduating in 2000, I have stayed in the area making it my home. I am married to my wife, Keri, and have three kids; Ava, Finn, and Cove. A pivotal point in my life was when my dad was diagnosed with ALS when I was 19. When I went home the first time after the diagnosis, my cousin, Ray, told me “Keith, you have two choices, go through this or grow through it. What you choose will determine everything.” I chose to grow and it changed my life. I have carried that with me in life and business. I am the National Sales Director for North American Bancard as well as own my own company, Trident 21. My passion is helping people, specifically businesses grow and if possible, adopting a culture of achieving a greater purpose than profit.

Love that! How did you hear about MudLOVE?

I have known about MudLOVE for years. I knew Luke when he was in junior high and high school. I was a youth leader at the church he attended. Whitney was a friend in college and beyond. I have always loved and admired the way they have successfully combined passion with a greater purpose and supported Water for Good as a focus of their business plan.

How has this pandemic changed your outlook on community?

Let me start with the fact that I LOVE community. Community is essential to the way that we were created. As an extreme extrovert, I need it. Community often means putting yourself last in a lot of ways. It is important to look at community with the mental position of giving without expectations. I see how this pandemic has elevated community and togetherness in a similar way to 9/11. We all need to support our community and find new ways to participate in community.

Tell us about the ways you're taking action during this time.

First, it goes back to the idea of giving without expectations. One of the first things was coming up with a way to help local restaurants, especially those that are newer or smaller and may not have the financial backing to weather this storm. If we want to enjoy them later, we must support them now. Out of that pure desire to help, several of us acted and was born. What started as buying gift cards with donations to inject cash into area restaurants and sell them discounted to the area residents so they can have a cheaper meal, is turning into a full business. It’s pretty amazing.

One of the biggest actions I personally took was to have “in this together” bracelets made by MudLOVE. I am sending them to all my clients with a letter of encouragement and giving them to the area restaurants that we are working to support. Frankly, I will give one to whoever is in my community that needs it. 

These are awesome ways of helping our community! Why did you choose the phrase "in this together?"

It is the best description of that feeling inside of you when an outside force pulls us all together for one common purpose. Race, gender, background, it doesn’t matter. When I started posting on social media I used it as a hashtag and saw that it was a growing hashtag. I am someone that is overly positive and optimistic and really desires to spread that hope and positivity. “In this together” truly is the war cry against this crisis. We must all have that feeling and take the actions that are necessary to keep others safe and support our communities.

We totally agree. What has the response to your initiatives been?

It’s been fantastic so far. Most of the time when you give without expectations, that is what happens. Gift Card Surge nearly sold out of gift cards in the first 30 hours and we were able to buy a second round of cards. More “in this together” bracelets are going out this week. I have been on social media promoting the bracelets in all channels with great responses. Everyone is struggling in one way or another. When we can spread positivity and hope, that is a real success story.

How can our readers jump in and support small businesses?

Start with the simplest thing: thank them. Email them, message them, write thank you cards and send them. Secondly, without financially straining yourself, support them. Buy a gift card that you can use later. Order a meal that can be delivered or responsibly picked up. Save your money to spend with them when their doors reopen. Order online if they have an online presence. There are so many methods to show support, but it comes down to one message: if you want to enjoy them later, you must support them now.

Thanks for sharing your story, Keith! We learned a lot from our conversation.

Check out the "in this together." bracelet we created, inspired by Keith's story. Send it to a friend or business and let them know you're on their team. Personalize them further by choosing to receive a free mailer with your purchase. Include a note, treat, and even decorate the mailer for a boost of encouragement.