Etched on Jay Baydala’s inner forearm is a small box, bordered by thick black lines. The tattoo bears one powerful word: WE. “It’s to remind me that there is no me, that every choice I make affects everyone,” Baydala says, sipping coffee in his “office” at Starbucks on 4th Street S.W. “We are unavoidably sideby-side, that’s part of the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
What he’s doing is heading ChristmasFuture, a non-profit that offers gift cards for various selected charities. The multimedia website keeps donors updated by showing them exactly how their money has affected a community – a unique spin on return on investment that Baydala calls “proof of impact.” ChristmasFuture has had a phenomenal response already, with more than 2,000 donations since the website’s December launch.
Typically laid back, Baydala’s eyes intensify when he talks about CF’s plans; it did, after all, completely alter his life. While indulging in other passions – photography and travel – Baydala toured the Third World and, upon returning, was so disenchanted with consumerism that he “destuffified.” “When I came home and looked in my closet, I saw 10 lifetimes’ worth of clothes.”
He quit his corporate IT job and sold everything he owned. He even traded his cherished three-a-day caramel macchiato habit for plain dark roast, in a mug Starbucks reserves especially for him. The money from selling his condo, SUV and electronic gadgets was poured into CF’s startup. His simple lifestyle, along with yoga, running and swimming, keeps his mind clear and focused. He shrugs off former IT colleagues who consider his miniscule salary as being insane. “Not once have I felt shaken on my choice or afraid of what the outcome might be,” he says.
Co-founder, OneYoga Program developer, Calgary Science School
Program developer, DonorTrust
Volunteer, Mustard Seed