If you’ve never heard of TOMS shoes or read his book, Start Something That Matters, you’ll learn the story of how TOMS shoes got its start. Through a small little idea he put into practice, he was able to change the lives of many, many people.

Looking back, Keryx ended up in a similar (much less successful) state. While Keryx may not have grown to the scale of TOMS Shoes, it’s been very amazing experience. I’ve been in tears reading thank you letters from users who have little to no alternatives using computers in the respective areas of the world.

A project that changes someone’s life gives you many things. First, you’re able to achieve the highest level of happiness knowing that you made a difference. The lives you’ve improved and the people you’ve inspired will never be the same. Who knows what they will achieve given the boost you helped them gain.

Secondly, working on a project that makes a difference gives you motivation and optimism. I was lucky to have had this experience at a young age. My open source experience stemmed from the beginning of high school where I was a part of the PortableApps.com community. Following that, I began to use Linux and the community helped me through every trouble. This inspired me to give back. I wanted a way to help others in my situation.

Having dialup is not fun. I had it at home until one year ago. Downloading software can take weeks on a slow connection like that, so I came up with the idea for Keryx with some help friends in the community. They helped me along and with some ridiculous determination I finished the first version. It was crap, people used it, liked the idea, wanted more. Throughout the past 4 years I’ve maintained Keryx, improving as I can while trying to get through the other hurdles of life.

I strongly encourage everyone to give something away and support it. Write open source software, donate your time at a charity, get involved. Not only will it reinvigorate you, it will have a direct impact on someone else’s life. It builds character, unbelievably strong friendships, and a satisfaction you cannot get from anything else.

If you aren’t living to make the world a better place, what’s the point?

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