Tonawanda News

January 14, 2013

Purpose Driven DJs give back to local charities

music: Business was inspired by NT man's desire to infuse life with beliefs.

By Michele DeLuca
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Watching the disk jockey crank up his sound system and work the microphone like a ringmaster at a circus, it’s probably hard to imagine he’s doing the work of his soul.

But, for Niagara Falls native David Paonessa and his boss, Mike Warren, every gig they do is an opportunity to help others. 

It all started about a dozen years ago when Warren, an electrician at the New York Power Authority, decided he wanted to start his own business after working a second job for about a decade with another area DJ company. 

The North Tonawanda resident was inspired by Rick Warren’s best-selling book, “Purpose Driven Life,” and he was praying about going out and starting his own business. Although he was not related to the author, Mike got a kick out of sharing the same last name, and he had been working to follow the same Christian lifestyle Rick teaches in his book. Mike, a loyal member of Renovations Church in Buffalo’s Black Rock community, had begun looking to infuse more of his spiritual beliefs into his life.

“God put it on my heart to start a business where, not only could we be free to express ourselves musically, but also where we could give back or donate to our community,” he explained recently.

In 2009, with David as his first employee, Mike started “Purpose Driven DJs” with a goal of tithing ten percent of every job to local charities, including YMCA Strong Kids, Carolyn’s House and

the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.

His company slogan was “Helping our city one party at a time.”  

But, beyond helping the community, he’s inspiring his staff, which has grown to four DJs and is led by David. 

A Buffalo special education teacher by day, David has the satisfaction of loving both of his jobs, especially the wedding work.

“When the open dancing starts, that’s probably my favorite time of the night. You look at the dance floor and you see that everybody is having a good time,” he said. “It’s kind of like when I’m teaching and the I see a student just got something I taught them.”

Better still, for David, is knowing that while he’s getting paid to DJ, he’s still helping others. “I know that some of what I’m earning is going directly to a good cause,” he said.

“You constantly feel like your doing the right thing,” he added.

Also inspired are some of their customers. North Tonawanda-born Dawn Basciani and her groom, Christopher Basciani, hired Purpose Driven DJs for their October wedding. Mike was their DJ, and created a light show, as well, to go with the purple theme of the wedding, Dawn said. 

“It was absolutely beautiful ... he’s really good at what he does. And it was definitely a good feeling to know that some of what we were paying him was going back into the community.”

With each job they take, the purpose-driven DJs ask their employer to choose a charity they want to assist. This year, they also plan to give an extra $10 from each gig to Fallen War Heroes, a non-profit that cares for wounded American soldiers.

While Mike is hoping that some bigger local corporations sit up and take notice of his small company’s acts of charity, area businesses might be more inclined to chart his company’s growth. The company is more than doubling in income each year. In 2010, $600 was donated to local charities. That number tripled the next year and increased to more than $3,000 in 2012.  In addition, a new DJ has been hired each year.

“The gigs just keep coming,” Mike said with a note of pride in his voice. “I’m shocked and amazed that people are so receptive to this model.” 

Further, he’s certain he’s getting business guidance from a higher source than most. “I’m confident if God wants us to be big, we’re going to be huge,” he said.

For more information on Purpose Driven DJs visit www.purposedrivendjs.com.

Contact Michele DeLuca

at 282-2311, ext. 2263.