It Only Takes One Soul’s Vision to Create a Movement for Good
You are enough.
Back in April 2020, when as a community we were all struggling with a new world order called COVID-19, I met Cathy Caplener—a petite soul who carried with her a sense of sadness and angst. She explained to me how she, like so many others, was yearning for connection as she faced isolation and uncertainty.
As we sat on my front lawn, Cathy said how grateful she was to be able to share and talk about her dreams and aspirations. She no doubt needed to talk and missed seeing her therapist, and I was glad that I could be there for her to provide that connection.
Cathy has been touched by mental illness throughout her life, as has her twin brother, who was recently diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. She saw her father deal with depression all of his life; he would turn to alcohol to chase the sadness and shadows away.
But Cathy knew she could not hide from her sadness. To start her healing process, she decided to find a way to help others facing mental wellness challenges know they are not alone and that they are seen and heard.
In July 2020, Cathy launched a billboard in the South Bay on Avenue C on the Pacific Coast Highway that read: “YOU ARE ENOUGH.” No advertising, no website or phone number. Just three words in a bold white font held by a dark cobalt blue background.
The vague nature of the statement created curiosity and a desire to know more. Cathy wanted people to lean in to the words as though the words were their own. She wanted passersby to just feel the words instead of thinking that to be ENOUGH, we have to be more, do more and have more—a gentle yet maybe not-so-gentle reminder that millions will see and hopefully embrace.
Some people did not understand the phrase, and perhaps this is part of the intense magnitude of the campaign’s rapid spread. The three simple, powerful and supportive words are meant to be taken by everyone in their own way. This is the beauty and the power of the campaign.
Sensing the community’s response to the first billboard, Cathy worked diligently and raised funds for more billboards via a GoFundMe campaign. Daily she heard from folks how the first billboard helped them, their friends and family. One woman sat by the billboard every morning drinking coffee while praying for her daughter who had just taken her own life. This billboard was the mother’s shrine and a way to heal.
To increase the scope of the campaign beyond billboards, Cathy started a mental health and societal healing nonprofit called Giving Purpose. As a public relations entrepreneur, Cathy knew that she had to start an organic, “purpose relations” campaign and work within her community to get these words out to the masses.
She started by designing cobalt blue wristbands with the words YOU ARE ENOUGH and passed them out to locals and strangers. She interviewed people about what the words meant to them and decided to create a documentary featuring the interviews. One friend suggested she consider merchandising the words on yard signs, hoodies and T-shirts. Sure enough, people ordered the merchandise like there was no tomorrow.
The three simple, powerful and supportive words are meant to be taken by everyone in their own way.
Facebook became the hub for the campaign, where people could share their ENOUGH stories and how they were coping with their mental health. The movement had begun in the South Bay, and Cathy saw people coming together and helping one another believe they were ENOUGH.
Perhaps coming out of the dark isolation many felt during the pandemic catapulted her message. But Cathy also knew that when dealing with mental health challenges, one needs to learn to sit with “self” and embrace our beauty and faith—something that is so hard to do when we feel sad and alone. COVID-19 woke up the depression monster in so many of us, and Cathy knew it was time to do more than just get funds for billboards.
She started looking for corporate sponsors to help get boards up and also create employee engagement and community relations campaigns around the words. Kinecta was her first, and to this day it is her biggest corporate supporter—paying for six billboards in the South Bay. When Cathy asked Kinecta if they wanted to be featured on the billboards, they said no and explained that the campaign is not about advertising. It is all about giving back.
This campaign showed all of us how we can be positive mirrors for one another and “share it forward,” whether the words were on billboards or a yard sign. People were coming together to get the boards up and wanted to buy the merchandise to let others know they were seen and heard.
Cathy’s movement and following grew. Wristbands appeared and continue to appear all over the globe. Yard signs popped up in yards, apartment windows and business establishments. The movement led to 550 billboards, newspaper write-ups, blog features and Cathy’s recent appearance on KTLA.
She organized a pier-to-pier 5K run/walk from Hermosa Beach to Manhattan Beach and back. Cathy had only three weeks to plan and promote the event and was stressed about getting enough people to cover the costs. Yet she knew that no matter how many people participated, she was starting an event that would naturally grow over the years because it had a purpose everyone could relate to and feel a part of. Most importantly, people would be seen and supported.
On the day of the event, I had the privilege to be the emcee—sharing the stage with DJ Lavae McClinnahan and 10-year-old singer Nicolas Gonzalez, who brought so many of us to tears while he sang the national anthem. More than 300 people showed up and were ready to come together for fun and smiles.
After growing the movement for three years, Cathy has plans to take it across the country. To learn more or get involved, check out givingpurpose.org. It takes funds to grow a movement, so please visit the site to learn how to become a part of this incredible avalanche of love.
As my voice rang out over the sand and across the plaza encouraging the 5K participants, I too was reminded that I AM ENOUGH … and for that I am eternally grateful.