Finally, public opinion forced them to work together with Coins for Care. Still they were adamant to hire paid companies for everything that we had already arranged for free! This was such a frustrating time for me.
Anyway, in the end, we collected $25 million worth of foreign coins! Over 140 charities benefited from the proceeds.
Later we found out that the established charities had spent over $15 million in expenses in organizing their part of the collection! Their directors were fired, but the money was gone.
I started to ask questions about charities in The Netherlands. There was no authority or law to monitor charities and protect the donors. I started Holland’s first Donor Organization and turned the charity world upside down, demanding transparency. But the charity ‘old boys network’ did not like my poking around in what had been their ‘business’ for many undisturbed years.
They tried to take the attention away from my transparency message, by accusing me of stealing money from Coins for Care. That hurt as, for 7 years, I financed my charity work with freelance jobs for a big consultancy company.
The positive support kept me going. For a while I got over 200 emails a day from donors, expressing their appreciation. Also I got invited to a meeting of all charities that had benefited from the Coins for Care money. There, the Mayor walked in. He started to talk about role models, model citizenship etc. I had no idea what was happening. Then he asked me to come forward and gave me a very serious looking medal. It took me a while to realize that I just got officially knighted by the Dutch Queen! At 33 I was one of the youngest people ever.
Looking back, Coins for Care gave me a lot of opportunities and it did change my life. I have learned so much by running such a novel and huge project. It also expanded my network immensely. I got to know and work with influential and inspiring people in Europe. It changed my image from ‘the girl next door’ to a well-known young entrepreneur who has realized dreams and contributed to society. For that reason I am frequently asked as a motivational speaker by all kinds of organizations. It also gave me the chance to publish a book: “What is your excuse?”
Altogether it enables me to work only a few weeks a year, to travel the world and enjoy life while looking for new inspiration. Coins for Care has not given me the financial security I was hoping for. What I got out of it is much better. I live a dream life, knowing everything is possible if you put your heart in it and I inspire others to follow their dreams, regardless of external circumstances.