Former Navy SEAL, Mark Delisle and his long time friend Hugh Vail were still standing in line at the concessions counter when the doors to the movie theater started to close. “It’s starting. I’m going in and grab our seats,” DeLisle told Vail. “Will you grab my food?”
Leaving the line, Delisle headed into the theater. “Look, when a Navy SEAL asks you to do something the answer is always yes, I mean, ‘aye, aye,’” said Hugh.
On June 15th O.U.R. showed the final private screening of the documentary The Abolitionists, the story about the enslaved children and the O.U.R. Jump Team’s exploits as they investigate and liberate these children from around the world.
“I found Mark, sitting next to friends Mike Porenta and Derek McLaughlin and sat down in my seat just as the opening scene started,” recalls Hugh. “I did not have any idea what I was going to see, let alone what I was going to feel. I’m not sure you can prepare for something like that,” said Vail.
The film was produced by Jerry Molen, Chet Thomas and Darrin Fletcher; the talent behind movies such as Saving Private Ryan, Amistad and Schindler’s List, just to name a few.
When the film screening was over an indescribable feeling settled through the theater; a mixture of sadness and anger intermingled with a determination to do something to help these children. As many tried to hide their tears, Operation Underground Railroad Founder and CEO Tim Ballard asked that the producers to come down to the stage and express a few thoughts and feelings.
“That had the most impact on me. I think on all of us really, said McLaughlin. On the way home we drove with a fair amount of silence until we realized that all of us had the same experience. When Chet said they wanted ‘to help the children but knew they couldn’t go on the operations,’ they went on to say that they knew that they could make a movie that would help the children.”
“I heard the feeling more in my heart than in my ears,” said Delisle’s friend Mike Porenta. “Guys, we just gotta do something. It’s too important!”
“Then let’s do it,” agreed Delisle.
“Give me a bit. I’ll figure out what we can do,” added Vail.
Rather than feeling down and depressed, these four men felt inspired and motivated. Enthusiastic to take their life’s experience from work and from home and channel it into supporting O.U.R.
“We knew that we had to do more than just buy O.U.R. T-shirts.” McLaughlin remembers.
For three weeks, these four friends thought of little else. Soon enough, Vail delivered. He had an idea to leverage his previous company into a stream of revenue that O.U.R. could count on. Slowly, the idea began to evolve.
“Derek and I needed to break away from our homes for a moment to work through some of the finer details which basically involved delivering hot chocolate made with real Dutch chocolate and real milk from Wisconsin to every doorstep in America and every break room at the office,” said Vail.
“Think about it, Vail told McLaughlin, “It’s Cocoa that Counts made with Real Milk That Really Matters.” But it was Derek, in his confident and articulate manner that said, “Even better, it’s Milk that Matters.” And the business was born.
Utilizing Vail and Porenta’s relationships in the food manufacturing business from the previous company they owned, Milk that Matters (MTM) structured a business model to donate 50% of MTM’s profits to supporting O.U.R.
Milk That Matters is helping parents and businesses support O.U.R. by supplying milk, chocolate milk, hot cocoa, spiced cider, freeze dried snacks for toddlers and other snacks into the kitchens and offices across America. In fact, they can deliver it directly to your home with a monthly subscription.
O.U.R. Founder Tim Ballard is impressed by MTM’s generosity as well as their ingenuity. “It really doesn’t cost people anything to support O.U.R. and help rescue these children because they’re going to the grocery story and buying these products already. MTM is just making it possible for them to do it. We really appreciate MTM’s help and those that are supporting them.”
The goal, as Delisle put it is, “to mobilize the O.U.R. family and provide them with excellent products and at the same time provide a steady stream of donations for O.U.R. to expand their rescue operations throughout the world.”
When the Call Comes
Have you felt the clarion call to action to support Operation Underground Railroad? Milk that Matters has some practical advice to those who feel the need to take that avenue.
Emotionally Committed to the Mission
The first thing that has to happen is that you must have the emotional need to actively participate in O.U.R.’s mission to rescue children from sex slavery. That does not mean that you are going on missions with the Jump Teams and directly facing off with traffickers. When the call comes, when your heart hears what your ears may not yet comprehend, you will need to put yourself in a position, even if for a period of time, to get things aligned. When clarity clears away the doubts, then action will overcome procrastination.
“We can’t afford to lose,” said DeLisle. “This is literally a life and death situation for these kids.
Total commitment most easily arises when what we do is more about others than about self. “This is the secret of the SEAL Teams and is one of the great secrets of the good life,” says DeLisle. “It creates the unshakeable resolve to do whatever it takes to win because it’s not about a personal win, it’s about lifting those that have fallen, and in this case, it’s about finding the children who are lost.
McLaughlin spoke about an experience he had before his senior season where former Philadelphia Eagle Vai Sikahema came and spoke to the team. “Sikahema said that in Polynesian history, the invading armies would burn their canoes upon landing on hostile shores. The act of burning your metaphorical canoe dramatically increases your buy-in, but it’s not for the faint of heart.”
Lift Where You Stand
The path to making a difference is to take what you know and give it a higher purpose. The Milk That Matters team has experience with food suppliers and managing a small multi-million dollar business. They are not rookies trying out an idea; although the 50/50 profit sharing model is innovative, and creates heavy burdens, the model was designed to give their business the purpose of their hearts and the weight of their resolve.
The MTM team knows there are good people who want to help. “The challenge is that they usually don’t know how,” said Porenta. “If you can give them a framework and direction, people will support you as you support others.”
Look into your life and see what you are passionate about. Take that and give it a higher purpose. If you feel like there isn’t anything that comes to mind, reach out to those already involved; stand by each other’s side and lift where you stand.