top of page

The Start of Something Big!

2024….This Could Be….

Karen and Jay share the belief that 2024 has the potential to be the start of something big, something important, something great – especially if we approach the new year with positive energy and a belief in the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

The ‘Start of Something Big!’  Bounding into the New Year – with optimism and energy – Especially excited about taking the Sunshine Initiative to an entirely new level in ‘24 (Please see below.)  And, in so doing, reflecting on a well-known song from an earlier era – which seems so appropriate as we kick off 2024.  It was the theme song for the Steve Allen Show, a TV show from the late 1950’s/early 1960’s - that was the precursor to the Tonight Show.  And the title of the song literally was ‘This Could be the Start of Something Big.’  To get in the mood for a great start into ’24, please go ahead and click on this link.  Definitely going to put you in an upbeat frame of mind. 


As you may know, when Karen and I founded the Sunshine Initiative more than five years ago – we did so as a way to help revitalize my hometown of Newport, New Hampshire.  With an outpouring of support from the community, the Initiative has achieved outstanding success.  Creating jobs, restoring the historic Opera House on the main street, breaking ground on a new Community Center last week, transforming a dormant mill on the edge of downtown into 70 beautiful apartments overlooking the Sugar River, a robotics program for the high school and much more. Not to mention setting a Guinness World Record for sunflowers – right in Newport, also known for many years as the ‘Sunshine Town.’


In fact, the efforts have been so successful that last year we launched similar revitalization initiatives in four additional New Hampshire communities – that had experienced economic declines and were in need of a rebirth.  These include Laconia, Rochester, Claremont, and the west side of Manchester.  Progress is ongoing and we are excited about the positive impact and momentum these efforts are achieving.


However, here comes the BIG NEWS.  We will be dramatically expanding our efforts in 2024.  We have formalized our approach, registered our non-profit 501c.3, and are setting our sights on a more expansive vision.  I think we’ve all come to realize that there are small towns and communities all across America that have experienced significant economic declines and a fraying of the social fabric.  Over the years in these communities, we’ve seen mills closing down, jobs moving offshore – and a sense of hopelessness and decay.  In our hearts, we know that this represents a hollowing out of America and a weakening of all that we hold dear.


As a result, we at the Sunshine Initiative believe that we need to change all this and are committed to do so.  We need to rebuild and revitalize these communities – and we know it can be done.  Therefore, we are setting our sights on an ambitious goal.  The Sunshine Initiative is setting out on a course to help revitalize more than 1,000+ such communities across this great country.  We know it won’t be easy – and it’s not going to happen overnight.  But we are committed to this objective and will ensure that it is achieved.

So, please stay tuned as we embark on this ambitious effort.  As 2024 progresses, we will be updating you on our progress – and most important, will be asking for your support and participation, with specific opportunities for you to get involved. Onwards and upwards – to an exciting and highly impactful 2024 – and a shared commitment to rebuild America – working together to revitalize our small towns and communities that form the backbone of this great nation.

Embracing 2024: A Year of Transformation Through Positive Change

As we stand on the brink of 2024, there's a palpable sense of anticipation in the air—a collective hope that this year could be a turning point for humanity. The belief in the transformative power of 2024 is not merely about the passage of time but hinges on a shared conviction that, if we choose to believe it, positive change is within our grasp. However, this optimism comes with a caveat: for 2024 to live up to its potential, we must collectively commit to making fundamental changes, fostering a positive attitude, and returning to the basics of what truly matters.


In a world often overshadowed by challenges and uncertainties, a positive attitude can serve as a guiding light. Embracing positivity doesn't mean denying the existence of problems; rather, it involves approaching challenges with a mindset focused on solutions and growth. As we step into 2024, let us collectively adopt an attitude that sees possibilities where others see obstacles. By fostering a positive outlook, we can cultivate resilience and inspire the innovation needed to address complex global issues.


Fundamental changes are essential to create a lasting impact in the year ahead. These changes should extend beyond individual behaviors to encompass societal, economic, and environmental aspects. It's a call to reevaluate our priorities, to prioritize sustainability over convenience, compassion over competition, and collaboration over division. From reimagining education to transforming industries, 2024 beckons us to forge a new path built on the principles of equity, empathy, and environmental stewardship.


Returning to basics is not a retreat but a strategic move to build a more solid foundation for the future.  In the pursuit of progress, we often overlook the timeless values that form the bedrock of a harmonious society. This involves rediscovering the importance of strong interpersonal relationships, the value of community, and the significance of mental and physical well-being. By recommitting to these fundamental principles, we can create a society that is not only prosperous but also compassionate and sustainable.


As for the Sunshine Initiative, we are embarking on a pathway in 2024 that is ambitious but very doable if we follow our plan and everything we just mentioned above.  We are going to be announcing new efforts, partnerships, and strategic moves as we look to expand beyond NH’s borders to communities across the US – ultimately in 1,000 by 2026 – our great country’s 250th birthday.  We are launching these efforts in what we believe will become – a movement – a wave of positive change and renewal across our country.

So, let’s not view 2024 as just another year on the calendar but rather as an opportunity for collective renewal. By instilling a positive attitude, making fundamental changes, and returning to basics, we can turn the promise of 2024 into a reality. It is a shared responsibility that requires the active participation of individuals and communities alike. In doing so, we have the power to shape a year that will be remembered not for its challenges, but for the positive transformation it will have brought to our world.


Resolutions – Common Themes – and Making Them Happen! 

The New Year is often the time when people get excited about making resolutions and setting goals for themselves. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and think about ways to improve in the coming one. As the new year begins, individuals often make resolutions like eating healthier, exercising more, or focusing on personal growth. Some might create vision boards, journal their aspirations, or make lists of things they hope to achieve. It’s a time for fresh starts and renewed motivation to steer themselves in a positive direction.


No matter who you are or your walk of life, most everyone uses January 1st as a chance to create meaningful and positive changes, goals, or aspirations via resolutions. 


Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have openly talked about their resolutions to prioritize exercise and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Personalities such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have made resolutions to increase their charitable contributions or dedicate more time to philanthropic endeavors.  Other folks commit to losing weight, saving money, and more.


Are you wondering whether there might be some common themes amongst all the resolutions that get made?  Well, I bet if you look around your own network of friends and family members you’re going to notice some recurring resolutions.  So, with this in mind, I thought you might enjoy seeing a compendium that I found of the ‘Top 10,’ or most common, resolutions. Please enjoy the list below.  Based on your own experience, do these look familiar?  Is there anything you think ‘missing’ from this Top 10 list?  Here they are:


1.         Exercise more: Committing to a fitness routine, joining a gym, or being more active.

2.         Eat healthier: Making better food choices, incorporating more fruits and vegetables, or cutting down on processed foods.

3.         Lose weight: Setting weight loss goals and aiming for a healthier body.

4.         Save money/spend less: Creating a budget, saving for specific goals, and reducing unnecessary expenses.

5.         Learn a new skill or hobby: Pursuing interests or acquiring new talents.

6.         Quit smoking or reduce alcohol consumption: Making efforts to improve overall health by cutting down on these habits.

7.         Travel more: Exploring new places, experiencing different cultures, or taking more vacations.

8.         Focus on mental health: Practicing mindfulness, reducing stress, or seeking therapy/counseling.

9.         Get organized: Decluttering spaces, improving time management, or creating more efficient routines.

10.       Spend more time with family and friends: Strengthening relationships and making quality time a priority.


I wonder if right now you might actually be in the process of committing to a resolution like one of those listed above?  Wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case.  The real test will be whether you can stick to it and follow through.  I hope you can.  In fact, we’ll be cheering for you – knowing that 2024 has the potential to be a transformative year for you – and making good on your resolution will be one big step in the right direction!

Positive Profile of the Week:  Jay Ruais 

This week we are delighted to highlight a friend and positive spirit, Jay Ruais, the recently elected Mayor of Manchester.  We wish him well in his important mission – successfully leading New Hampshire’s largest city to a future of growth, prosperity, and a strengthening of the social fabric of this great community.

When you get to know Jay, you learn that he is driven by a positive vision for the city, inspired by his parents' commitment to community service. Growing up, he learned the values of hard work, community engagement, and serving a greater purpose.

A graduate of Gettysburg College and American University, Jay discovered his passion for public service at the age of twenty-four when he overcame alcohol addiction. This transformative experience ignited his belief in the potential of every individual, regardless of their circumstances, and fueled his commitment to uplifting those in need.

Since achieving sobriety in 2010, Jay has actively fulfilled his promise to give back. His career in public policy has allowed him to address issues like veterans' care and addiction, fostering bipartisan solutions in a divided Congress. Later, he joined a nonprofit dedicated to combating the addiction epidemic, contributing to evidence-based practices for the well-being of patients and families.

Jay's personal life reflects his commitment to diversity and inclusivity. He met his wife, Veronica, an immigrant from Peru seeking economic opportunities in the U.S. Their story mirrors the vibrant immigrant presence in Manchester, seen in schools where over 50 languages are spoken.

Overcoming obstacles, Jay fulfilled his dream of military service by joining the Army National Guard in 2020. Returning to New Hampshire, he worked at Catholic Charities, supporting programs for homeless veterans and pregnant and parenting women.

Residing in Ward 7, Jay actively engages with community organizations, serving as a Knights of Columbus Council member and a board member at Light of Life, a nonprofit aiding women who have experienced abuse and exploitation. His positive vision for a diverse, inclusive Manchester drives his dedication to building a better future for all residents.

As he embarks on his journey, we wish him well – and thank Jay for his commitment to Manchester – knowing that his positive energy and vision are certain to have a lasting impact on this wonderful community.

Quotes of the Week:  The Start of Something Big!

"The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals." — Melody Beattie


           "In the tapestry of life, each day is a thread, and the new year is a brilliant opportunity to       weave a pattern of joy, growth, and success." — Arnot Watt. 


"This new year is not just a change of date; it's a canvas waiting for your vibrant brushstrokes to create a masterpiece of positive change." — Unknown


"As the clock ticks towards the dawn of 2024, let optimism be your compass, and determination be your guiding star. This is the year for something extraordinary." — Unknown


"The magic in new beginnings is the potential they bring. Embrace the coming year as a reservoir of endless possibilities, and watch it unfold into something truly remarkable." — Anonymous


"In the symphony of time, let the chords of the new year resonate with positivity, harmony, and the promise of boundless opportunities. This is your moment to compose something magnificent." — Unknown


bottom of page