Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Celebration of Giving Back

"The United States long has been a nation of givers, but a new generation is transforming the way we do good. Millennials and Generation Xers, especially those 20- and 30-somethings starting careers, may not have the bucks to be major donors, but they are finding ways to help others and prompting big changes in the way charities raise money."

"Young people are "not just making checks and going on with their lives. They want to be part of what happens" to their money, says Claire Gaudiani of the Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising at New York University. She says today's young people contribute to favorite causes earlier, more consistently and in more imaginative ways than their grandparents did."

"Whether it's helping rebuild houses after Hurricane Katrina or serving as literacy coaches at the local elementary school, young donors "would rather be volunteering than sitting at a luncheon," Benero says." USA Today (10/7/08)

FINALLY! Some freaking good news about the Millenials and GenXers! As a member of the GenX community, I've heard pleny of negativity about those my age over the years. From rants about our laziness to our rebelion from our baby boomer parents' values (freaking A though, what generations hasn't been accused of this!) to our struggle to find a cause in a world void of a vietnam war style, rallying issue.

I LOVE this article because it proves something that I've felt for a long time... that just because we are young, doesn't mean we don't care about our world and what happens to it and that we aren't willing to sacrifice time and money to make a differnece! While in California, I worked with this guy (Brian, early 30's) who was such an inspiration just to be around! He had more energy in his left toe than I had in my entire body. He was charismatic by trade, and was always exacting change in his community. I've never known someone who was as community orriented and put as much energy into enacting change for himself and those around him, as he did.

At that same job, I met a guy (Daniel, 28) who was heavily active in working against the notion that homosexuality was a mental illness that could be "cured" by therapy. He had been subjected to this type of "treatment" during his high school and college days, and had first hand knowledge of the damage it could do. He regularly protested and wore awareness about the evils of the concept and was wonderfully intellegent and engaging to talk with.

So, when Brian ran for Long Beach City Council, Dan and I spent an entire Saturday writing his email address in the sand so it could be seen by people coming down from the beach access areas and the folks who lived in the beach front apartments, all of which were in the district he was running for. We also folded and stapled yard signs and participated in a gallery exhibit to raise awarenss of the district and Brian. Brian of course spent many, many hours knocking on doors and talking with people about their issues.

Unfortunately, Brian's bid was unsuccessful (this time). I'm sure name recongintion was against him. With a last name like Ulaszewski there's only so much you can ask for. But the experience was fun and exciting. And Brian went right back to fighting for his community in all the ways he had done before the campagn.

I have a friend in Michigan who at 21 (and a part of the millenium generation) is volunteering once a week with her local battered women's shelter. This is a girl who should be out partying it up every night, and then trying her hardest just to stay awake during her college classes, but instead, she is giving of her time and her expertise since she is a psychology major.

Here at my job in North Carolina, I work with a woman who has a reading buddy that she meets with every week during the school year, a woman who works at the shelter for homeless youth, one guy who is heavily involved in the Obama campagn, and multiple people who volunteer their time within the architectural industry.

So, what am I doing? It's taken a long time to get up and running, but it's finally here. I've done 4 on call shifts with United Family Services in the domestic violence crisis department. I've had two calls to the hospital. One, the victim left before I got there without treatement, the second was a spanish speaker who I really hope I was able to give some resources to if nothing else. This Sunday, I'll be able to start a movement class at the Alexander Youth Network which works with children who have mental and behavioral issues. And I sent in my pledge money in to support WFAE (or local National Public Radio Station).

So, my challenge to you is... whatever your age, what are you doing to exact change in this world? Big or small, all of our efforts make a difference so if you aren't doing anything yet, consider it! Almost every community has a battered women's shelter that needs volunteer child care workers in the evenings. A couple of hours, one night a week would be all it would take. Women for Women ( is a wonderful organization that teaches rights awarness to women in war torn nations, gives them training in a skill or trade, and then gives them micro loans to start their own business so they can become self sufficient. Their program involves a $25/once per month donation and a monthly letter to your female sponser in another county. One of the best resources I know of is They are the monster or careerbulder of the volunteer community. You simply put in your zip code and it brings up many, many volunteer orgainzations in your community.

So, whatever you do, whether it's spending your Saturdays cleaning up trash, or simply giving to your local United Way campagn, do your part. For we all the costodians of our world and our people. There is no one but you!

link to the full USA Today article. It's definitely worth a read.

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