Go Inspire Go

California / July 26, 2012 / by The Team

As a TV reporter in San Francisco for eight years, Toan Lam learnt a great deal about how the media worked but he was unhappy with the work he was doing. Now, he inspires others to give back to their community rather than reporting only the negative. 

Although it had always been a dream of his to work in news, he explains that “I still felt so empty ... I was sick and tired of death and destruction and covering that every day and having that energy around me.”

Lam had always loved reading and writing, and talking to people. He says that “what really brought me joy was storytelling and connecting with people” so his first thought was to create a YouTube channel. 

He wanted to tell those stories that were being left aside by the daily media, and he felt video was the best way to do it. “If you sit down with people, really get to know them and tell their story, there’s something magical that happens that I can’t explain, something effervescent.”

“My goal was to have five people watch, and five people help five people,” Lam explains. He describes it as a ‘ripple effect’ - small changes, even one by one, can spread from friend to friend and will quickly be making more of an impact than anyone could have predicted. 

This lead him to the creation of his non-profit, GoInspireGo.com, of which he is the ‘Chief Inspirator’. It is “a multimedia enterprise and non-profit where we inspire people to help others.” The emphasis lies in the “call to action on how you can use your power to help other people” at the end of each blog post and video. 

Lam creates the Go Inspire Go videos himself with the goal of showing what inspirational people are doing across the world. He has also developed a way for others to engage with showcasing the inspiration. He calls this area GIG Spark. 

These are shorter videos created and then sent in by people who have watched his videos and are inspired to do something themselves. One such video was about a woman called Gretchen Burley who made a video of herself as she handed out free flasks of hot chocolate to the homeless in Detroit, Michigan. 

Go Inspire Go recently filmed a piece about BAYCAT.org, a non-profit in San Francisco that educates underserved youth and adults in digital media arts, and helps them find employment using the skills they learn. 

A recent break-in saw the theft of $50,000 worth of laptops, which contained the results of many weeks’ worth of work by the students. Lam’s video comes at a time when BAYCAT is in need of just such a call to action to help raise the money to replace the computers. 

While replacing the computers will not replace the student’s work, they are determined to move forward with their projects and the best way to do so is to ensure they have the computers they need to do their work. 

In all Lam’s videos, his goal is clear: “to try to get as many people to feel the joy and to see the stories as possible ... to give this gift to people so that they can experience it and then serve others.”

One of Lam’s earliest stories is a perfect example of what can be achieved if people are willing to pass on the good news they hear and help others. 

Lam produced a story that features Jorge Muñoz, a school bus driver who spends his evenings cooking food to give away to over 150 people at his local subway stop in Queens, New York. 

Despite working long days, Muñoz, who was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama in 2010, would take just a short break before preparing the food and delivering it to those in need. 

Thanks to Lam’s Go Inspire Go video, which now has over 190,000 views, Muñoz went from having to spend half his weekly salary on the food he was cooking to now spending only $150 a month on food. “So many people have donated their time and energy and donated goods and services to him,” including a new stove, says Lam.

“That’s why I do what I do,” he explains, “because of the Jorges out there and the people that support Jorge.” It is all about the chance to “discover and use your power to give back,” which is something Lam believes we can all do. 

To learn more about Go Inspire Go, visit their website or blog, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. You can learn how to create your own GIG Spark video here and you can watch the Go Inspire Go videos here.