Alex Sheen, 36
Founder of Because I Said I Would
If you're walking down the streets of Lakewood, admiring the old homes with cars parked out front, chances are you might catch a glimpse of a bumper sticker or two with the phrase “Because I said I would.”
Inspired by his late father’s ability to keep promises, Alex Sheen launched his charity and nonprofit out of his Lakewood home — his first ever — in 2012. Drawn to the suburb for its affordable housing and picturesque parks, Sheen has since distributed promise cards to more than 13.5 million people around the world.
“It’s nice to see people in your area, knowing who you are, knowing the meaning of the organization and see that it makes a difference,” says Sheen.
While he still travels nearly 300 days a year for speaking engagements, he’s discovered Lakewood has a strong sense of community and volunteerism.
Even as his own nonprofit grew, inspiring him to open an office in Lakewood, Sheen finds ways to team up with a variety of local volunteer organizations such as H2O, or Help to Others, a service-learning program run out of Lakewood’s middle school and high school.
“I think it’s good to introduce kids to helping other people,” says Sheen.
Outside of Lakewood’s strong communal nature, it’s the public amenities, such as the courts at Lakewood Park where pickup basketball is common, that keep Sheen close to home when he’s not working.
“I can live anywhere in the world I want just based on what I do, but I thought, Nah, I’d really miss being able to play basketball like that,” says Sheen. “As silly as that sounds, it’s one of the reasons I live here.”