8 Ways To Give Back To Your Community

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Volunteer!

This one seems obvious enough, right? There are always lots of places looking for volunteers. From working with kids at an after school program to helping to facilitate an event, the opportunities to help out and volunteer a few hours of your time are plentiful. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly talented, you may be able to help a someone (or several people!) learn a new skill, It just takes a phone call and a little patience.

Double Your Next Batch

Next time you’re baking for a family or work event, consider doubling your batch and bringing the extras to a local police station, veteran club, senior home or soup kitchen. You’re already baking your specialty anyway, and all it usually takes is a few extra scoops of flour and sugar! There are plenty of places out there filled with hard-working people who will appreciate your skills!

Make New Friends At The Shelter

Animal shelters are almost always looking for extra help, and volunteering has never been so cute or rewarding. While there might be some unglamorous tasks, on occasion, you’ll also get to spend some quality time with some loving, adorable animals, and nothing beats that!

Organize A Clothing Sale

Ask locals to donate clothing and accessories, and re-label them for reasonable resale prices. Donate all the proceeds from the sale to a local charity and then give any of the remaining unpurchased clothes to a local shelter.

Paint A Mural

Consider organizing a mural painting somewhere in town. There’s bound to be a blank wall that could use a little beautifying somewhere along your daily route. Gather a few friends, approach the owner with your idea, and see about making a masterpiece that everyone can enjoy!

Share Your Pet

Your pet makes you smile and can be very therapeutic, so maybe they can make someone else happy too! Consider bringing your pet to a local senior center, veteran’s club, or hospital to bring some joy to the residents. Of course, this may not be the right choice for every pet or every location, so be sure to consider the demeanor of your pet, the needs of the patients, and the policy of the site before you try giving back in this way.

Tutor The Community

We’ve all got something we’re good at, and if you’re lucky enough to be good at long division or skilled in Spanish conjugations, consider sharing your smarts with local students. Many schools and afterschool programs would be happy to take on a volunteer to help students improve.

Visit Local Seniors

Senior Centers will almost always take volunteers, and usually, all they ask of you is to give your company. It’s often as simple as saying hello and listening to some beautiful stories. Maybe a fun round of cards or bingo? You can also read to them, run a dance or art class, give residents manicures… whatever! It’s all about spending time together, that’s what matters.

Saudi Prince Donates Billions to Charity

Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, an investor, business man, and Saudi royalty, announced last week that he will donate all of his fortune ($32 billion) to charity within the next few years.

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According to the Huffington Post, Alwaleed recently stated, “‘It is a commitment without boundaries. A commitment to all humankind,’” (Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity). Alwaleed is the CEO of Kingdom Holding Company, an investment organization located in Saudi Arabia, and also has made significant investments in Apple, Twitter, Citigroup, GM, Euro Disney, and many other well-known companies.

At 60 years old, Alwaleed plans to donate billions to Alwaleed Philanthropies, his nonprofit organization that supports a wide array of causes, such as disease and poverty eradication, intercultural understanding, women empowerment, and disaster relief. At a recent press conference, the prince spoke about his plans to allocate the money, saying, “‘It will be based on a strategy that is supervised and managed by a board of trustees headed by me to ensure that it will be used after my death for humanitarian projects and initiatives,’” (The Huffington Post, Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity).

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Furthermore, according to the Huffington Post, “Gender, race or religious affiliation will not factor into which humanitarian issues are addressed,” (Saudi Prince Says He Will Donate $32 Billion to Charity).

To read more about Alwaleed’s business and philanthropic life, check out the Huffington Post’s article here.

 

Fundraising for Philanthropy

Scot UlmerWhether you are an active member of a philanthropy or you run one – there are many ways you can contribute to fundraising for your cause.

Fundraising for philanthropy is a great way to not only connect people throughout your community, but to educate those around you about your charity – that could be as specific as raising money for hospital funds that will go to one of your relatives in need, or for a widely-recognized philanthropy such as the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation.

Here are some helpful tips you can use to raise money for whichever philanthropy you are passionate about:

First, whenever you are raising awareness for a cause, make sure to be creative. Nobody ever wants to be harassed in the middle of the street in New York City on their way to work. Instead, be appealing and use your resources.

Making an announcement at work, or sending out an email to those you think would be interested is a great way to let people know that you want them to attend your fundraising event – but only if they want to. Never force somebody into donating money, because chances are they won’t want to donate to your cause again.

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Next, try to get children involved in your fundraising event. There’s nothing that people love seeing more than innocent children (though they may not always be so innocent) making an effort to learn and care about a certain charity. Try hosting an arts and crafts session for children that helps children learn about a cause while simultaneously giving them creative freedom to have fun and partake in the arts.

For example, if you are an advocate for heart health and cardiovascular disease, one of the leading causes of death in the United States, host an arts and crafts project where children (parents) donate 5-10 dollars and in turn get to make paintings of hearts – these could even be donated to a nearby hospital!

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Another great way to help raise money for your philanthropy is to promote good health by holding a sports competition or race at a local high school or infamous landmark in your town. A basketball tournament is always a great way to get the community together for friendly basketball games. Plus, who doesn’t love watching the local dentist get called for a double dribble?

In conclusion, there are many ways you can help raise money for your philanthropy, but having fun with it will always end in a better turnout and outcome for your event. Good luck!

Breaking the Cycle: U.S. Homeless Shelters That Are More Than Just a Place to Stay

Homeless Shelters

On a single night in January 2015, 564,708 people were considered homeless, living on the street, in their cars, or a homeless shelter. It’s easy to let the issue of homelessness in America slip into the background of our lives. If you live in a city where homelessness is a real epidemic, how many times have you walked past that person on the corner without dropping anything into their donation bucket or offering so much as a smile?

As much as we’d rather ignore the issue of homelessness plaguing our nation, the statistics don’t lie. The main reasons people become homeless are due to poverty and a lack of affordable housing. The lucky ones can find shelter for an extended amount of time and maybe even enter into a rehabilitation program where they can connect with employers and get back on their feet. The less fortunate ones, the 83,170 individuals (15% of the homeless population) considered to be chronically homeless, have a disability, or have been homeless for a year or longer. These individuals often don’t seek out the help they need and may fit your more traditional image of homelessness of the person camped out on a park bench shivering under a mound of ratty old blankets in the dead of winter.

Luckily, there are a number of saints out there who are not immune to the suffering of the homeless, who see them as regular people and not an invisible nuisance. Many of these people can be found working at homeless shelters where they provide vital, life-saving services to the homeless population. All homeless shelters offer an essential service by providing a warm bed and respite from the harsh outdoors. Still, some all-star shelters around the country go above and beyond, offering more than just a place to stay to the homeless people that come through their doors. Here are just a few of the ones that stand out:

  1. N Street Village: Washington, DC

N Street Village in Washington, DC, is so much more than just a homeless shelter. On its website, the shelter describes itself as “a community of empowerment and recovery for homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C.” In addition to offering emergency services, the shelter realizes that homelessness is an ongoing struggle for most, so they take a holistic approach to homelessness and also address long-term needs through a variety of services including housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. The shelter was awarded the Washington Post Excellence in Nonprofit Management Award, as well as several other awards. They’ve also hosted famous visitors such as the Dalai Lama and White House officials- celebrity chef Sunny Anderson even hosted a cooking class there and competed in Chopped to donate her winnings to the organization!

2. The Action Center: Lakewood, CO

This shelter certainly lives up to its name! Its mission is to “provide an immediate response to basic human needs and promote pathways to self-sufficiency for Jefferson County residents and the homeless.” In addition to offering food, clothing, and shelter, The Action Center also provides programs to address the root of the problem and help residents obtain self-sufficiency. “We don’t want to just put a band-aid on issues,” the website states. “We want to get to the root of what is causing their financial instability, with the ultimate goal being self-sufficiency.”

3. Sunnyvale Community Services: Sunnyvale, CA

In addition to having a sunny name and being located in the sunny state of California, this shelter exudes optimism. “Sunnyvale Community Services is here for our neighbors in their time of need,” they state. They recognize that 96% of their clients have incomes under 200% of the poverty level, and 39% of the people they serve are children. To that end, their mission is not only to assist with the issue of homelessness but to prevent it. They offer financial services and monthly food programs in addition to traditional services.

4. The Lord’s Place: West Palm Beach, FL

This Florida shelter offers a nurturing environment for residents to live up to their full potential. They are “committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness” by providing their residents’ job training, transitional work experiences, and employment opportunities. According to their website, they provided supportive housing to 337 men, women, and children in 2015, and 96 formerly-homeless people found employment through their training and education programs.

5. Pacific House: Stamford, CT

Pacific House, formerly known as Shelter for the Homeless, in Stamford, Connecticut, is a men’s shelter with the mission to end homelessness in their community. They changed their name to reflect their aspirations that extend far beyond just providing food and shelter. In addition to providing overnight emergency shelter for homeless men in the region, it also offers a variety of support services thanks to donations, such as social services, clinical services, and vocational services.

6. Coalition for the Homeless: New York, NY

Founded in 1981, the Coalition for the Homeless is “the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women, and children.” Much more than just a homeless shelter, they believe every New Yorker deserves a home, and they treat affordable housing, substantial food, and the opportunity to work for a liveable wage to as fundamental human rights. Therefore, they implement strategies to end mass homelessness in New York City. Programs offered include food, crisis services, housing, job training, youth programs, and advocacy.

If you go to the websites of any of these fine organizations (links provided), you can make a charitable contribution. If you want to make a difference but don’t have the means to donate right now, then take a little time to understand homelessness, and the next time you see a homeless person on the streets, don’t turn a blind eye.