December 28, 2018

Vanna White, Mr. Rogers & Why 2019 Will Rock!

Well, hello there, friend!

It’s been quite a year and we’re so grateful!  And our vision for 2019… kicks 2018’s butt!  Shall we catch up?  I agree.  Let’s!

(Pssst – You better not skip to the bottom where we give you a slew of I-N-C-R-E-D-I-B-L-E options for how you can help!  Don’t do it!  Don’t you dare!)


Update #1:  We still suck at blogging!

Yep, for a 6th consecutive year, we’ve done an outright mediocre (at best!) job of keeping our blog (and email newsletters) current!  We’ve strived to maintain this low standard of blogadocious communication and WE DID IT!!

(*Hesitant high-fives all around!*)

But seriously, we reached more people this year than we’ve ever reached beforebut we reached them (perhaps you were one of them!) primarily in REAL LIFE.  So, we’ll work on upping our online comm game… but I’m really pumped about the real-life impact being made.  🙂


Update #2:  We got a 1977 VW bus and named her Vanna White! 

Heck, yeah!

In January, I was frustrated.  Growth was slow and our mission felt stale and hollow with the vast majority of our outreach being strictly online.  So, I met with my event planner friend, Danielle, for advice.  My question(s) for her:  How can we:

A) Stop taking ourselves so darn seriously and instead HAVE MORE FUN, while…

B) Reaching more people in REAL LIFE, and…

C) In a way we can REPEAT in other cities across the country as we grow?

Danielle’s response: “Get a VW bus!”

I loved it.  Her idea was to convert an old bus into a promotional pop-up shop, which we could use to partner with local businesses (coffee shops, breweries, boutiques, etc), events, you name it, to sell our rad merch and share our mission with people in real life.

So fun, so lighthearted and approachable, so… exactly what we needed.

Here’s the video we created to promote the concept. (Sorry the alignment is wonky – can you tell our developers are on vacation?) 🙂

Thanks to all of YOU, we raised some mula and bought this beaut in Portland, Oregon!  (Cheers again to my buddy Devan for test-driving it and brokering the deal with the semi-shady character we bought it from! Nice work, Devan.)

And, I will admit – when we (my wife, Ash, and I) drove this rust bucket back to Boise and shared these photos with you all, I’m keenly aware that there was a collective gasp, followed by a pause, followed by you saying, “Ohhh…. Umm… good for you guys…!..?” When, really, what you were thinking to yourselves was, “Ohhh… Matt… what have you done?”

(Yep, I knew that was what you were actually thinking.) 🙂

I think this bus makes for a solid metaphor for life and for our cause.  It had some rough times in life, had some problematic areas that needed some repairing, but… there was a ton of value to unearth and it was absolutely primed for a restoration and a pretty special purpose.  That’s what Speak Your Silence is all about.  🙂

Here are a few shots of the transformation process!


Update #3: We’ve found our sweet spot (good gosh, FINALLY!)  

Vanna White spent the summer in the body shop getting a full body and interior restoration and customization, and then hit the ground running in September!  And we hired a rock star (literally, probably) named Bridget as our Outreach Manager/Bus Driver Extraordinaire to get the bus out and about everywhere possible!

Bridget, along with our awesome fall intern, Sam, have warmly shared our mission with so many people and brought a whole new layer of meaning to our work.

I’ll level with you – SYS has existed 6+ years now (according to Facebook) and none of it has been easy.  It’s felt very uphill from day one.  Sexual abuse and assault isn’t exactly the easiest cause to push and to gain buy-in for, the nonprofit business model is rather challenging in and of itself, and our cause is so intangible that it took us a really long time to find a solid way to reach people in an approachable way.

This VW bus, as silly of a concept as it might seem to be, has changed everything for us.  Now, don’t get me wrong – retail sales is still not an easy game, and funding can still be a challenge – but, with a cause that’s so personal to so many people… we’re genuinely reaching far more people than we ever have before, and in a much more meaningful way.  People see it all over town now.

Bridget and our team of 8 rock stars who’ve worked the bus thus are personally sharing our mission with roughly 5,000 people every month.  Many have shared their own stories and some a few tears.  And many more who have purchased our merch and taken on our cause as their own. And THAT is what this is ALL about!  A personal approach for a very personal cause.

I really feel like we’ve found our sweet spot with this silly bus.




Our vision for 2019 is simple: A) Get the bus profitable (a fancy term for “bring in more money from the bus outreach program than we spend on the bus outreach program”) so that we can then B) Get bus #2, city and state TBD.

And… I’m pretty sure we’re going to name bus #2 “Mr. Rogers”.

Our long-term vision after Mr. Rogers is to then get bus #3 (what do you think we should name it?), and then bus #4 (and it??), and so on, until we have SYS buses sharing our mission in cities all over the US.  It’s so simple, and it’s very reachable.

In order to do any of it, though, we need your help!




Every day, I think about why SYS exists, why our work matters, and why we continue to push ahead.

The reason we exist:  You are really, really valuable… and you might not realize it (or believe it).  And if you don’t realize or believe in your innate worth, it’ll take an enormous toll on your life.

Our cause may be sexual abuse and assault, yes, but really, we’re a value and worth organization.  We all have stories and we all question our value and worth at times.  For this reason, our employees at SYS go out every day to simply affirm the worth of each person they interact with.

You are that person.  We think you’re the best thing ever.




As we cap off 2018 and begin 2019, if you’re interested in supporting SYS, here are a few ways you can help us reach our 2019 goal of adding Mr. Rogers to our fleet.  You can:


-DONATE MONTHLY to keep Vanna White’s wheels turning (even $20 is huge!) – CLICK HERE

-INCREASE HOW MUCH YOU GIVE, if you already donate monthly – (email me at

-SPONSOR OUR BUS – $2,500 for a month (email me at



-SHARE YOUR STORY – email about potentially contributing to our blog.


Cheers, friend! We’re so grateful for you!