In all locations, places, and spaces around the world there is without a doubt tragedy occurring. If there isn’t anything occurring now, then there has been in the past or there’s a high possibility that there will be in the future. Tragedy is many things and doesn’t always have to be big events like the ones you may be thinking of now. They can range from things like the devastating disaster that’s happening in Hawaii to a 7-year-old little girl getting a broken ankle from a bike ride. Here are three stories of people that turned their underlying disaster into something good in hopes of making the world a better place.
Haircuts for The Homeless
This is a story that surfaced and rotated around the internet at a quick pace but was never something I personally learned the full story about. Once I did, I felt even more inspired by the act of pure selflessness coming from this man. Nasir Sobhani is a Melbourne barber that takes his days off and gives free haircuts to the homeless to encourage them to build a clean start. Moving away from the surface and looking underneath that act of kindness, he’s also a man that struggled with drug addiction. He found an inspiring love for giving haircuts and states that it turned into his new outlet away from drug use. He urges the homeless people he meets to get clean and shares his own story with them on what can happen when you find something you truly love doing. Now there are several stories of other barbers doing the same thing for the homeless and it’s hard to know which came first, but they all have their own individual inspiring stories.
Positive Impact for Kids
A 12-year-old girl started her own non-profit in the wake of her own tragedy. Leanne is diagnosed with a heart condition that requires regular hospital visits. However, one specific hospital visit inspired her to start something that children all over the world can benefit from. While attending her visit, two teenage volunteers at Duke Children’s Hospital offered her a gift. It was this act of kindness that encouraged Leanne to see the good in the world and feel deeply enough to create her own way to give back. She created the non-profit, Positive Impact for Kids, that buys items to fulfill wish lists for kids in the hospital. Her ultimate goal is to improve the lives of children and adolescents in hospitals and bring them simplistic happiness whenever she can.
In Loving Memory
A fully developed dream was on the edge of seeing its end when a son and friend of many passed away due to suicide. That dream was quickly picked up and spread worldwide with the loving grace of his family to help him finish what he started. The brand Taylor created is continued on by his family and now donates 15% to suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Taylor’s family wanted to continue this legacy for him and make sure that Taylor will always be remembered for who he was and what he loved to do. His brand is set to truly bring awareness to the tragedy that can happen within all families and the company now hopes to be completely community minded. He always wanted his brand to be philanthropic and his family continually carries that out for him in his loving memory.
Author: Shylee Wheeler
“Badass Barber Gives Free Haircuts to Homeless While Battling His Own Addiction.” Bored Panda, boredpanda.com/homeless-haircuts-drug-addiction-street-barber-nasir-sobhani/.
“Get Involved.” Positive Impact for Kids, positiveimpactforkids.org/.
Many great novels end with a happy come together. The girl next door gets the rugged misunderstood boy after their many tribulations. The dysfunctional family on the corner of Parley Avenue suddenly seems not so dysfunctional with a climactic heartwarming speech to profess a grander love. So, why is that happy ending so unknowingly satisfying to the audience? Is it a common place script? Is it because we’re socialized into expecting that happiness is at the end of all entertainment? A more accurate possibility is that it’s human nature to feel that happiness is a true piece of life. Or chocolate cake, humorously.
It’s understanding where that happiness comes from that’s important. People are hardwired into the knowingness of interrelationships; we’re just not quite sure what that means. In this context it means that we can’t have one without the other. We all, on some scale, relate to hardship and we hopefully relate to overcoming those hardships. This in a sense creates a safe, fuller community for all of us. It allows us the opportunity to thrive in tandem with one another.
Everyone sees those videos of people doing deeds out of the kindness of their hearts. I always think of that video of the grandma that brings two cans of Coca-Cola out to the two garbage men every day. There is no self-interest for her to do that. They’d still get her garbage whether she was there or not. In that moment they were so fully engaged in her thoughtfulness for strangers that I could feel it just by looking at my phone screen across the country. Without any of us knowing the full extent to any of our lives and them not even knowing I exist, we all shared in a growing sense of love and peacefulness for each other. In a way, that’s this sense of happiness in life without knowing why. That’s this sense of interrelationship.
Every day, this can be even more powerful. We can start becoming better people than we were the day before and that’s a truly magical thing. We aren’t always gifted the opportunity to become someone better, but here it suddenly is staring you in the face. The value of purpose doesn’t have to be handing over money to cure cancer. Even though that is important and you’re more than welcome to. It can be in the smallest things like helping someone that lost everything in a natural disaster or helping a single mom fund her daughter’s college fee after she had to use the money to support her family.
The idea of supporting someone you don’t know can be scary and with limitation, but if there’s even a small chance that you can get that house rebuilt or that girl to college it should be an easy choice. We all want that happy ending, right? Any good cause you choose to invest your time, money, or thought into is your chance to give someone that happy ending. In tandem, also giving you the ultimate happiness. Or chocolate cake, humorously.
See how you can make a difference by contributing to a good cause today: aGoodCause.com.
If you are anything like me, your pet is more than just a pet, they are a member of your family. Your fluffy little companion becomes a part of you; you take them everywhere with you. You find yourself splurging on new toys and treats because you can and because you love them that much.
For me, I took my little fluff ball to “puppy classes” as a way for us to bond, training and a fun thing to look forward to besides going to the dog park. At the end of each “puppy class” when she graduated, I would splurge and purchase new toys for her to play with.
My puppy means more to me than just being a pet, she is a valuable member of our family. She is always there at the end of the day when we get home, she is always good for a laugh and someone to cuddle or play with. I could never imagine mistreating her, because she isn’t just a pet, she is a member of our family, which is why we treat her as such.
Unfortunately, not all animals get this kind of treatment. In fact, many are neglected, abused or even abandoned. Think of the Sarah McLachlan animal shelter commercials, with her song playing along with facts about animal abuse accompanied with images of abused and neglected animals. At one point in the commercial McLachlan comes on with the sad song playing that tugs at everyone’s heart strings, trying to entice and appeal for the audience to donate money and help rescue animals from abuse. She informs those that do donate, that their “monthly gift” will help to rescue animals from their abusers, medical care, food, shelter and love. As a way of saying “thank you” for donating, the particular organization that McLachlan is advocating for, will send donors a picture of an animal in a shelter that their contribution is going to help. This tactic works for a couple of different reasons. One being people get attached to their pets that it kills them to see any animal hurt or suffering and two the music choice appeals to people’s ethos.
Aside from appealing to people’s ethos, commercials like McLachlan’s bring attention to a big issue that is often overlooked by many, as it is upsetting and difficult to talk about. The hard reality is that many pets are often neglected or abused by those who are responsible for taking care of them. According to humanesociety.org, it is difficult to accurately calculate how many animals are abused as animal abuse cases are not compiled by state or federal agencies.
While it might be difficult for some to comprehend the fact that people would ever neglect or abuse their pets, it happens more than you might realize. Abuse and neglect of a pet extends beyond physically harming an animal, it includes failure to provide basic care required to thrive, neglect, puppy mills, hoarding and malicious killing of animals.
Although some people do intentionally injure and hurt animals, others do so unintentionally. When animal cruelty is done intentionally, those doing the harm generally are knowingly depriving the animal of food, water, shelter, socialization or veterinary care in minor cases. In more extreme cases of animal abuse and cruelty, those perpetrating the acts can intentionally torture, maim, mutilate or kill animals for pleasure or financial gain.
Having a pet comes with many responsibilities, including financial responsibilities in the form of veterinary expenses, food, and other miscellaneous expenses. When we first brought our puppy home, I was a bit overwhelmed with all of the financial costs that were associated with having a new puppy. We now had another mouth to feed, on top of getting her spayed; if we wanted to leave town, we would either have to take her with us and find places that allowed dogs, generally with a fee, or pay to board her somewhere. Having a pet is an important responsibility, with many aspects that people don’t realize when they first take on a new pet. As a result, some inadvertently neglect their pets simply because they cannot afford to care for them.
Aside from neglecting an animal, by not being able to care for them; many animals are treated cruelly by their owners. Similar to neglect, animal cruelty is the result of many different reasons according to humanesociety.org, the most common of which being a person feeling powerless, unnoticed or under the control of others. As a result, a person may choose to be cruel and mistreat animals by simply copying acts that they have either seen or experienced themselves. For others, they view harming an animal as a way to seek revenge against or to threaten someone who cares about the animal.
Reasons for Animal Abuse, Neglect and Cruelty
There are an immeasurable number of reasons as to why animals are abused and neglected every day. These reasons range from either a deliberate action or in some cases a lack of action that results in harm to an animal. According to wildlife-rescue.org, there are two main categories in which reasons for animal cruelty can be broken down into: active and passive. No matter how you classify the reasons for a person’s cruel behavior towards a helpless animal, there is no justification for the mistreatment and abuse of an animal.
In instances where the abuse and neglect are the result of ignorance on behalf of the owner, education can be used to mitigate future abuse and neglect. For those who need education, will often receive follow up visits to ensure that the situation improves and no further abuse and neglect of their pet occurs. In more serious cases, where actions are intentional, the animal is often removed immediately and taken to receive urgent medical care.
Intentional acts of violence, acts of commission, and cruelty towards a helpless animal is the result of a person’s deliberate intent to cause harm. Often, the perpetrator is using the animal as a way to assert authority or fear over another person. This can happen via threats to kill a family pet, to assert authority, intimidation, threaten someone to remain silent about a current or previous incident or to simply assert their power over their victims.
On the other hand, passive actions of abuse and neglect are often the result of a lack of action on the part of the pet owner. While lack of action or lack of knowledge can sometimes be the reason, it does not erase the fact that animals who suffer as a result often go through extreme amounts of pain and suffering. The most common examples of passive abuse include starvation, dehydration, parasite infestations, inadequate shelter during extreme weather conditions, failure to seek veterinary care when an animal requires medical care.
An example of animal abuse through a lack of action occurred in my hometown. A few years ago, there was an individual who had in their possession heard of horses, all of which they were not feeding. The individual was reported to authorities, which then allowed for the state veterinarian and state brand inspector to step in and assess the situation. Due to the severity of the starvation of the horses, it was advised that they not be transported to a new location as it was likely they would not survive. Volunteers through an informal rescue group were collection donations to feed the horses.
Although, I felt as though I lived in the perfect community, this just goes to show that animal abuse can happen anywhere and to any animal.
Types of Animal Abuse
Now that we understand some of the reasoning behind why animals are abused, it’s important to know what abuse looks like to better understand how to stop it from happening. Abuse and cruelty can take on many different appearances, some more obvious than others. Because some animal abuse occurs on a large scale, involving animal testing and fighting; and others occurs in our own neighborhoods, animal cruelty can be classified into several different categories.
In most cases of animal abuse, there is a deliberate action involving the harming of an animal. The hardest part of being able to stop animal abuse, is that is often does not occur in the open; most instances of animal abuse happens behind closed doors or with no one around to witness the abuse. As a result of not openly seeing abuse happen, it is easy to overlook the fact that it does happen. As a result, most areas have animal control officers who are responsible for enforcing and investigating cases of animal abuse, persecuting the perpetrator and rescuing the animal from the abuser. Although they do help the animal who is being abused, they rely on the abuse being reported to be effective.
Neglect of an animal often stems from ignorance or a lack of interest in the animal. When a pet is injured or sick, as an owner, you are morally and legally obligated to seek out the appropriate veterinary care for your pet. Unfortunately, for some pets, their owner is either unwilling or unable to spend the time and money that is required to heal and treat their sick or injured pet.
Neglect of an animal includes more than failing to seek out veterinary care, it also involves failing to feed or provide water for a pet. Some claim that they “forget” to feed their pet, which is not an excuse for neglecting your pet.
As sad as it may seem, there are actually people who believe that they have a sense of entitlement towards animals and because of this entitlement they are able to use animals however they want. This is generally done in a way that will bring them monetary gain through exploitation. It is not uncommon for some circuses, zoos, aquatic theme parks and other animal centered venues to exploit animals, under the disguise of “entertainment”. When these animals aren’t out performing for a crowd, they are often kept inside tiny cages, forced into submission and are unable to socialize with other animals of their own species. Other examples of animal exploitation include starving animals, accidents as a result of insufficient exhibits, and abuse to get the animals to perform a certain way.
Using animals to test new products is not a new thing, in fact it has been around for many decades. Although, scientific developments have proved that it is unnecessary and less effective than other methods of testing that are available, animal testing does still occur across the globe. As a result of animal testing, many animals are subject to chemicals and substances that result in itching, burning, chronic pain, lost body parts, and other horrific consequences as a result.
A prime example of animal testing, comes form the classic 1992 movie Beethoven. In this movie, a family dog is seen by the vet, who quickly realized that they could use Beethoven to test products on. They device a plan to fake a dog bite, forcing the family to have to put the dog down. Little did the family know that the veterinarian would not be putting the dog to sleep, instead he would join other dogs in their possession and be used for testing. Thankfully, the movie has a happy ending where the family catches on to the plan and is able to rescue not only their beloved Beethoven but the other dogs as well.
Common Issues Associated with Animal Abuse
Now that we’ve established some of the reasons behind animal abuse and cruelty and a few of the many different faces that abuse takes on, it is important to understand what abuse and cruelty looks like in the real world.
Considered to be one of the most horrific aspects of animal cruelty is that of animal fighting. Whether it is bullfighting, cockfighting, dogfighting or simply fighting between two animals, it is horrific to witness. Animal fighting occurs when one animal is pitted against another, resulting in the death of at least one animal.
Animal fighting is defined as including social animals that, in the wild are able to coexist without any problems. Although, they might be able to coexist, there may be a sense of dominance of one animal over another, but they do not fight to the death.
Those who participate or encourage animal fighting do so for more than just the entertainment aspect of it, animal fighting brings in copious amounts of money. Organizers may charge a fee to be an observer of the fight, and will often collect money and facilitate betting between attendees. Organized and non-organized fights occur all across the globe—in developed and underdeveloped countries.
Prior to an organized event, animals are often kept in small cages except for when they are out being trained how to fight. They do not receive any veterinary care—preventative or trauma-related. The animal that “wins” the fight, often is missing body parts, has open wounds, broken bones among other injuries. Animals who are subject to animal fighting often don’t live long, as they either die in a fight or are destroyed when they are no longer able to fight and bring in money.
A few years ago, while visiting another country on a humanitarian trip, I came across a cock fight, which is something that I do not condone nor agree with. The two chickens were showing signs of aggression towards one another and their handler, prior to being placed into the same pen. Once they were locked in the same pen, the aggression worsened, especially when the handler cheered it on. It was a horrific experience to see first-hand. Thankfully, those in my group, along with myself spoke up about the cruelty and asked for the fight to stop because it was something that we all viewed to be wrong and not something that we condoned nor wanted to witness for ourselves. The handler obliged and separated the two chickens before any serious injuries were sustained by either one.
Puppy and Kitty Mills
Chances are, if you’ve ever wanted to bring a tiny puppy or kitten into your home and life, you’ve been advised to adopt from a shelter rather than buying one from a pet store or a breeder online. This is because of puppy and kitty mills, that systematically breed animals for the sole purpose of selling the babies at an inflated price.
Many breeding mills, do not select grown dogs and cats based on their breeding characteristics or genetic health, they just look for an animal that will bring them a profit. As a result, many of the puppies and kittens that are born have congenital conditions that can have a negative effect on their quality of life.
Not only are many not healthy when they are born, they are often kept away from other dogs and cats in tiny cages. This minimizes their playing with other animals and socialization. Because there are so many in a breeding mill, they are typically dirty, undernourished and terrified of humans and animals alike. In the most deplorable of conditions, some are even beaten or abused by those who are running the breeding mill.
We all know someone who loves animals so much, and want to bring them all home with them. Unfortunately, having too many animals can be a form of animal cruelty even when done as an act of kindness. The reality is, those who have copious amounts of animals at home, believe that they are saving animals and are treating them kindly, when they can actually be inflicting harm on the animals unintentionally.
Some of the negative repercussions that come from hoarding too many animals inside one home is that, when one passes away, the owner typically doesn’t realize it—at least not for some time. The smell of urine and feces can be overpowering that they are able to mask the smell of decomposition, which results in horrific and unhealthy living conditions for both humans and animals.
Those who hoard animals, will often bring home more pets with little to no regard to having the animal spayed or neutered. As a result, there are often new litters born, increasing the number of animals inside the home. These new additions often do not receive any veterinary care after they are born.
Just last month, I read a news article about an elderly woman who had more than 100 dogs, living inside her home. Authorities were first notified, when neighbors began to call city officials complaining of a foul smell coming from the home. It wasn’t until authorities arrived that they learned the source of the smell. No dead animals were found inside the home, while some were found to be in worse conditions than others. Authorities who responded to the home, were reported as saying that this was the worst case of animal hoarding that they had ever seen.
All across history, animal pelts and fur have been a luxury, a commodity that can bring in large amounts of money. In years past, settlers and Native Americans would use animals’ pelts and fur for clothing, hats, and blankets; along with eating the meat—not wasting anything. Nowadays, animal pelts are sold for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, or more depending on the animal in which it came from. This is especially true for endangered animals, in which there is a huge black market, which brings in vast amounts of money for a single pelt.
Depending on the animal pelt, some are “field-stripped”, meaning they are skinned alive in the wild. Others, such as minks and foxes are raised in farms, for the sole purpose of harvesting their fur; in most cases the animal is killed prior to being stripped of their fur. Because things have changed so drastically over the course of time, animal pelts and furs are no longer required for human survival, as they have been replaced with synthetic fibers. But some still prefer the cruel treatment of animals to achieve their fashion statement of having “real” fur on their coats.
How to Stop Animal Abuse
As you can see, animal abuse and cruelty can and often does happen all the time, for a myriad of reasons. Because some instances of abuse are done in private, it is hard to fight back and help animals to escape and survive.
The best way to combat animal abuse and cruelty is to be a voice for the animals who are being abused. When you see abuse or animal cruelty happening, report it. Contact local authorities and report the abuse. Don’t try to confront the abuser yourself, as you may end up getting hurt yourself. It is best to report it to the authorities who have the power to do something and save the animals from any further abuse. Along with reporting animal abuse when you see it, it is equally as important to educate others about what to do if they witness any animal abuse or cruelty happening around them.
On a bigger level, there are many anti-cruelty laws in place which include harsh penalties for those who are committing the cruelty. When penalties are couples with counseling as part of a punishment, there can be a decrease in repeat offenders.
For those who lack the knowledge on how best to care for an animal can really benefit from informational sessions that discuss how to care for a new or old pet, when to seek veterinary care, and how to train a pet. Educating those who don’t know can go a long way to prevent future animal abuse, simply because they didn’t know any different.
There are organizations, such as Human Society, Best Friends Animal Society, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that are committed to stopping and putting an end to the mistreatment and abuse of animals of all kinds. All of these charities have made significant strides in the right direction, yet still have a long way to go to end animal abuse. If you would like to donate to their cause of ending the mistreatment of animals, all across the globe, you can make a donation through the Animal Care Initiative campaign found at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/animal-care-initiative/. Together with your help we can fight to end animal abuse and ensure that all animals are loved, well taken care of and enjoy the life that my sweet little puppy enjoys!
I recently completed an in depth research to find the best of the best in fundraising platforms. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five reported in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. The information I discovered proved to be very powerful. I am choosing to share this extremely valuable information for free – with no catches – because I wish someone would have done the same for me.
I set out on this adventure, hoping to find a fundraising company that not only offered me the best value for my time and money, but also had superior customer service, a truly secure website, and some excellent “Wows” or extra amenities. I really was looking to see which platform would help me to be the most profitable.
In 2017, an online article was published on the top TWENTY-SIX sites for campaign donations. While this information is readily available, it was disconcerting to unveil that this information was outdated; in fact, some of the websites are no longer viable. Plus, it was difficult to determine which fundraising platform was the best for me. So, now that I’ve done hours of research and I’ve found the top five best fundraising websites I am sharing this knowledge with you. Again, the main requirements that I wanted addressed were trust, affordability, reliability, and results!
With this in mind, this article is dedicated to the top five current, trending and result centered organizations. These, again, are the four elements that I used to measure my findings: 1) What are they doing to ensure the security of their users; 2) How they charge fees and what they use the fees for; 3) The effectiveness, professionalism, and timeliness of their customer service; and 4) Any amenities offered to make the experience even better, easier, and all around more successful.
In each of the four categories, which I deemed most important to those that may use one of these fundraising websites, I ranked these businesses on a scale of 1 to 5. One means that the company is the worst in that category; and, five means that the company has earned a serious “Wow” and is the industry standard in that category. This linear model allowed me to think objectively about the criterion and see how these leading companies truly compare. I hope that as you read this, and you critique for yourself, that this will come in handy!
A Good Cause Global
A Good Cause Global, LLC was not the first company I investigated, but it was by far my favorite. This Utah-based company is a growing start-up with lots of promise! I believe, through my findings, that “A Good Cause” may be the next big name in fundraising!
A Good Cause – Security
At the bottom of the A Good Cause home page, you can see that they have been secured by a third party cybersecurity professional called, Trust Guard. In my book, this is the cherry on top of the web world. You can never be too careful about the information you put online, and knowing that this site is scanned daily for potential hackers and other malicious folk… well I feel like I can trust them with my funds! Although this company is only about two years old, I see them quickly becoming a powerhouse in the fundraising industry.
A Good Cause – Fees
In the category of fees, “A Good Cause” was amongst the lowest of all the competitors. They charge a fee for transactions using credit cards. There is not a company in the world, that I’ve found, who doesn’t do the same. They only charge 7.4% and $0.30 cents per donation as a payment processing fee. This comes to a whopping $7.70 for a $100.00 donation. A Good Cause has the best rates, with no hidden fees, and no request for an additional tip.
A Good Cause – Customer Service
I called their toll free number and was immediately put into contact with a real person. It happened so fast, that I was truly shocked. They take customer service very seriously. You can chat with a live person on the phone or via Live Chat. They use live chat services through Rhino Support during business hours, and a 24/7 online support to make sure that their guests have the best experience in the industry! You can email directly or fill out a support ticket and someone will reach back to you within one business day. In all my years of working with businesses, I have not found a better customer support process. Additionally, A Good Cause goes above and beyond by offering their guests the option of leaving a rating or review to help provide immediate feedback regarding the effectiveness of their service.
A Good Cause – Amenities
A Good Cause had some great membership amenities, so I listed them below. I also enjoyed the articles as I perused their website! They seemed to take a very personal approach, and they had several campaigns on their page that you could make a donation to directly! It was direct and very simple to make a donation, and I wasn’t manipulated into leaving a tip!
One area that I think this company should get kudos for is that among the services they offer, they TEACH you how to get the most from your social media platforms. It’s the only fundraising site, that I have seen, do this! A lot of people might not know how to run a fundraiser on a blog, or on Instagram, or Pinterest. A Good Cause also provides instructions on using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter! They have earned four stars in the area of Amenities.
Summary for A Good Cause…. I get really picky about giving out high scores, but I just could not find a big fault with A Good Cause! Even as I was writing this, I kept going back to see if I could find some area to lower their scores; BUT I COULDN’T FIND MUCH OF ANYTHING! So, Siskel and Ebert eat your hearts out. You would have to give A Good Cause a whopping TWO THUMBS UP! FIVE STARS! Scoring high in each of the four areas, A Good Cause got 90% with an 18/20 score on Security, Fees, Service, and Amenities.
The company known as FUNDly platform is easy to use, helpful and scales to any size fundraiser. Individuals can begin on Facebook, or non-profits can begin building their fundraisers on site. You begin by telling your story and connecting with donors, which is the normal outline for almost every company you may choose. Every fundraising page has a video and photo gallery that’s front and center. Add your content from Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook or your computer and you will have created an interactive slideshow for your cause. Fundly has a free mobile app which you can get from the Apple store to make posts from anywhere so you can keep your story going.
One aspect that others don’t have is their Facebook OpenGraph integration. It automatically broadcasts campaign activity and those who support or even “like” your page show up in activity feeds.
Fundly – Security
Every campaign at Fundly includes the ability to securely process donations through a payment processor called WePay. They also have a secure SSL certification. They are about average in the area of security, so that’s why they earned three stars.
Fundly – Fees
Fundly offers a variety of payment plans depending on your needs. Launching is NOT free, but begins at $75.00 per month.
Fundly platform fee is 4.9% + credit card processing fee 2.9% (Total 7.8%) + $.30/transaction. If it wasn’t for their required monthly fees, Fundly’s fees would be reasonable – slightly worse than some of the other companies we’ve investigated – but reasonable. However, due to the monthly fee it just isn’t very sensible.
Fundly – Customer Service
In the area of service it was found that Fundly has no phone service. You can email in a question and wait for a response. Compared to the other sites, this is a bit of a let down. Emails are a slow and unpersonalized way of responding. Today’s patrons, like me and you, expect quicker more reliable way of communication.
Fundly – Amenities
On the website for Fundly there is a wide variety of services to educate and help you navigate the fundraising platform. Tutorials will lead you step-by-step and they offer weekly podcasts. I couldn’t find another fundraising company with as many and useful amenities.
This gives Fundly an overall score of 13/20 stars, ranking it second overall with a 65% score. They have awesome amenities, but their fees and customer support were simply unacceptable.
The company called, Classy, made the top five list. It is a software company and an online fundraising platform focused on nonprofits. It was founded in 2006, originally to host fundraising events that benefit charities. They changed to a software and services company in 2010, and in 2011, began focusing on peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, and marketing automation.
Classy – Security
One thing that stood out to me and was super impressive was that they, like aGoodCause, have Level 1 PCI compliance and security. However, I’m not sure about Malware protection, it does not make mention of this. Classy has earned four stars for Security.
Classy – Fees
In this category, I believe Classy falls well behind. I could find no transparency! Almost every page, although graphically eye-catching, asked for you to answer questions, and then be linked to people who would assist. While this is nice for someone who may be ready to plunge right in, it is disconcerting that you don’t know what you will be charged for these services, let alone how much of a cut they will take from your fundraising. In the area of fees, they are given only one star.
Classy – Customer ServiceAs I opened up this site I was immediately drawn to the layout of the page, which shows on the right hand corner that you can request a demo! I was immediately intrigued, but quickly disappointed that it led to a page where I was asked for a ton of my information and if I “would I like to be put on our blog”. Then the company would contact me later to set up an appointment for a demo. Upon further perusing, I was drawn to the very bottom of the first page where Classy offered a FREE GUIDE to data-driven fundraising. I liked how it really sold me on what I could learn! UNFORTUNATELY, clicking the link took me to a separate information collection site where you are encouraged to be contacted, and also to subscribe to their blog.
While looking through their pages, I got a pop-up for talking to a live staff member. How nice! I asked a question about cost, and the lady that helped me was very nice and answered in a timely manner. I was impressed that, like aGoodCause, Classy has a live chat service too. For Customer Service, I give them four stars!
Classy – Amenities
Amenities were varied for Classy. I was able to find educational support in their blog and archives, but it was not listed easily for viewers to find.
They have a variety of educational tools, but no mobile app, or any indication of updates or whether this is a risk-free site.
Awarding stars therefore, will be a mix of what is missing and what they have. For amenities, they are given three stars .
Classy earned a total of 12/20 stars for 60%. Other than their fee structure, they were one of my favorites.
The company, Go Fund Me, was the most well known and have been around a long time, but I found several unsettling things that pushed them back to number four on the top five list. This is probably the most used platform, but I think you’ll be surprised to learn about some of the things I learned about this less than favorable platform. The Go Fund Me Campaign has been going strong since 2010. They have also acquired other companies such as “You Caring” and “Crowdrise.”
Go Fund Me – Security
Security is of the utmost importance while using online and mobile services. Go Fund Me does allow you to submit a claim if there is a problem with a donation and offer a donor protection guarantee. They also will return money to the person, should the claim be awarded. Go Fund Me has been around for almost a decade and processes more fundraising than any of its competitors. However, for someone that is worried about the security of a business I could not find any sort of website security other than a basic SSL certificate. I would think a company of this magnitude should have a strong website security program, but I could not find any.
Again, I could not find any established security, but their longevity in the industry must mean they’re doing something right. Overall, for a company that has been around as long as Go Fund Me have, I think they need to step up their game and get a few more stars in this vital category.
Go Fund Me – Fees
Go Fund Me also claims on its website that it has no fees. This is a little bit deceiving. Go Fund Me is a for-profit company. There is a 2.9% payment processing fee collected on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. That means if you donated $100, Go Fund Me would collect about $3.20.
The site specifically states that, “Donors are able to leave a voluntary tip when they contribute to a cause on GoFundMe, and these tips allow us to maintain our free platform, continue helping those in need, and pay our dedicated employees.” What it doesn’t say is that the voluntary tip is automatically defaulted to 10% or higher, and that all donors are asked to pay this. You thought you were making a generous donation, with no fees, for $100? Think again. You only donated $96.80, but spent $110. That is a difference of about 12%. Its true that you do not have to leave a tip, but they should make you feel like you have to; and, if you’re not paying attention you will leave a 10% or more tip.
Go Fund Me – Customer Service
They claim to have operators on call to advise you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so that when you get that urge at 3:00 am to start a fundraising campaign, someone will be there to answer your calls. This is not as pleasing of an experience as it is advertised to be – not by a long shot. Additionally, Go Fund Me has cleverly marketed their workers as “Customer Happiness Agents.” Is it snide to wonder if they had to get training at another giant mogul chain (whose name we shall not mentioned). Happy meals? Happy agents? It’s just a thought. As I considered what a happiness agent actually does, I decided that I would need to venture out, and actually call the number listed on their website. The question I would ask? “Can you explain the donor program?”
Here is what happened: First I was sent to a link like the one in the image below. I was hoping that perhaps there was an online chat, as I really wanted to say, “Hello” to one of these Happiness Agents. The form I filled out led to a second page where I was asked if my question had been answered.
From here, I clicked that I still needed help. I was linked to the next screen, which allowed me to tell them who I was. My selections dictate whether I got to speak to a live person or not. *Upon filling out the rest of the form, which I will not bother inserting here as I think you can see where this is going, I was sent back to a “did this answer your question?” link. Claiming that you can access their (and I quote this from their site) best-in-class “Customer Happiness” agents [who] will answer your questions, day or night is a far stretch from a computer prompted questionnaire. Due to the serious headache their process gave me and the unending run-around, they did not earn a very good score. If I could I’d give them a negative score in this category, but that wouldn’t be professional.
Go Fund Me – Amenities
Finally, the amenities of the Go Fund Me site were reviewed. One thing that really stood out was that you could access the funds immediately. This is a huge plus for me! As you will see on other sites, some companies don’t give out anything if the goal is not met! Another bonus, they have an easy to access APP for your mobile devices. Plus, plenty of ‘self-help’ resources. I think this is their strength. However, the endless emails after donating or creating a cause is way too much.
Mobile-Friendly Campaigns No penalties for missing goal
GoFundMe Mobile App No deadlines or goal requirements
Expert advice, 24/7 Keep every donation you receive
I had super high expectations for Go Fund Me, but their total score only equated to 12/20 or 60% overall rating. Their fees have hidden requests for tips, security is not clear, and their customer support was so horrible it was putrid.
Kickstarter made the list, but ended up in fifth place out of the top five. It comes up as one of the top sites, and it differs in it focus and functionality. This is a funding platform exclusively for creative projects. If you can dream it, it can be financed through Kickstarter. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. These ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others, which makes this aspect of Kickstarter wicked cool. One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything on this site must have a clear goal. Something will be made, and something will be produced if you are to receive funding.
Funding is given by “backers” who decide what they want to support. They give a pledge to projects to help them come to life and support a creative process. To thank their backers for their support, project creators offer unique rewards that speak to the spirit of what they’re hoping to create.
Kickstarter – Security
Security for Kickstarter is low. They have been subjected to many scams wherein people have pretended to work for the company. There is a link directly on their site concerning this problem. SCARY! With no form of site security that I could find, but warnings from the FBI to contact the Internal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center the following rating was issued.
Kickstarter – Fees
Because Kickstarter uses backers, they do not collect a fee until you complete your goal. I see this as both a good and a bad thing. First, you will most certainly have put money of your own into the design or idea. So, if your desire to make the world’s most fireproof engine fails, how much money did you lose? How many people will you have to pay out of your own pocket? Supply costs? Time invested? That all adds up! If you do succeed, you will be looking for backers to invest in your product. The kickstarter company will then take out 5% for themselves, and their company that does payment processing will also take out 5%. There is also a .20 cent fee for each donation. This equates to $10.20 for every $100 that is donated.
Kickstarter – Customer Service
Kickstarter uses a similar, highly frustrating, customer service strategy to the one that Go Fund Me employs. They too have a page where you send in your questions and you are asked if your question was answered based on the electronic responses that they determine. Kickstarter; however, does not make any allusant claims that they have agents on site. So, at least I didn’t spend an exhausting amount of time hoping to communicate with an actual live agent. They don’t make a claim to be anything more than what they have posted – still not very helpful.
Kickstarter – Amenities
In the area of amenities, Kickstarter offers a weekly newsletter showcasing “Projects We Love”. In fact, that’s what the newsletter is officially called. All you need to do is give them your email and you are set.
The Creative Independent is another amenity offered by Kickstarter. This is a resource for creative people, and is BY creative people. It’s a pretty cool amenity which lets you read about them and also hear about their ideas and inspirations. Stevie Nicks is currently on their site. As a singer, and lover of her band, I like this aspect! Unfortunately, these two things are really all I could see in the Kickstarter amenity page. So kudos for the newsletter and the Creative Independent, but there was nothing for actually helping build the funding.
In summary, Kickstarter ranked a very low 10/20 for 50%. They were barely at average in a few areas, with a scary low score in security. Although it has a great idea behind it, I don’t think I would invest in an idea that may or may not have backers, especially with the security issues.
In conclusion…. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five discussed in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. Based on a Five Star rating, in the areas of security, fees, service and amenities, you should now be able to make an educated decision on your own, as you navigate the world that is fundraising!
There are many more companies out there, some big and some small. This analysis should provide you with a good resource to narrow down the right fundraising platform for you. The world of fundraising is expanding, and I hope that you find the company that best suits your needs!
As a final comparison, based on my findings, please review the below charts to observe how each of the companies stack up to each other.
Author/Researcher: Katie Stanger
I, Katie Stanger, thought it would be best if I gave this article to aGoodCause.com and let them post it on their website, associated sites, social platforms and/or how and where they would like. They have my full permission to use this article at their discretion.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
I can think of no wiser statement, especially due to the nature of the work here at A Good Cause. We take the idea of building humanity through service seriously! It is our passion and our intrinsic ideals that keep us ever on the lookout for those not only in need, but for those who are in a position to help others.
Many people are familiar with the concept of a Go Fund Me campaign. People put their story online, and hope that friends and family will help them reach their goals. While this is a good way to generate support, WE DO MORE!
At A Good Cause you can be put in touch with men and women who know the true meaning of philanthropy. Maybe YOU are one of those, and you would love to have someone direct your financial acumen. We here at A Good Cause work hand in hand with charities and organizations and we give you pertinent information to help you to make the best decision. You can track your campaigns, as well as donations.
Our motto, “Learn, Do, Share” says it all. People from across the world can join, seek assistance, and be a source of good for all mankind. Your individual commitment can bolster a team, your society, and the world we live in. Won’t you please join us at aGoodCause.com?
“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” – Abraham Lincoln
Imagine, sitting at home, relaxing after a long day at the office, when all of a sudden, your whole home starts to shake uncontrollably. Or, you are woken up in the middle of the night, to smoke and a shrieking fire-alarm, your home engulfed in flames. Imagine, knowing that a tropical storm is making its way towards land, and you live right in its path. You’ve done all you can to brace your home and prepare for it, but nothing you do will guarantee your home will make it without significant damage.
Disasters can strike at anytime, anywhere and come in any number of forms—fires, earthquakes, floods, and so much more, often with little to no warning. Since moving to a location where natural disasters are more common than I am used to, I have had to think about how to be prepared for the unexpected and what resources are available to me when a disaster does strike. Many resources are available on both a local and a national level, depending on the severity of the disaster and the number of people affected.
Being prepared for a disaster goes beyond having an evacuation plan in place, ensuring all family members know where to meet in the event of evacuation, and having food and water on hand. Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare for a disaster, you might need help from an outside source. Whether that help comes in the form of food and water, financial donations for repairs or starting over, clothing or shelter until you are able to return home, relief can come in many different forms.
Knowledge is power, therefore, knowing what to expect and knowing that you are prepared can go a long way in helping to keep you calm and thinking clearly when in the thick of things. Although, no one can prevent a disaster from happening, being ready can help to protect yourself and your family. At the same time, having the knowledge that there is going to be help and resources with disaster relief, can be comforting and reassuring knowing that you won’t be left alone to pick-up and start rebuilding your life.
While I believe in being prepared, and doing all I can to be self-sustaining in the event of a disaster, chances are there will be times when I’ll need help from outside resources to get back on my feet no matter how prepared I am or not. This point really hit home when my home felt the shocks of two large earthquakes within a few days of each other, something that I had never experienced before. Therefore, I believe it is important to know how to be prepared, how to help others be prepared and know what resources will be available to help following a disaster.
Different organizations, such as, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Delivering Good and Goodwill Industries are in place to help with disaster relief. Not only do they have the resources in place to help following a disaster, they also offer education on preparing for a disaster—kids and adults. Before you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, take precautionary steps now to prepare yourself, your family and your home.
While I’ve talked a lot about being prepared for a natural disaster, disasters can and often do occur in many other forms. This can include financial disasters, relationship disasters, family disasters, medical disasters and many other types of disasters. Often, when people experience a financial or life-altering disaster, they don’t know where to start to turn things around and get their lives back on track. The loss of a job, mounting medical bills, divorce, loss of a spouse or child an all have devastating effects on a person’s life.
Unlike a natural disaster where you may have some forewarning that it a disaster is coming; life disasters can be equally as unpredictable as a natural disaster. While many advise that you have a savings account for just such instances, savings might not cover all expenses or happen before you’ve been able to build up your savings. When these instances occur, it is important to know that there are resources available to help you through the hard times, and get back on your feet.
How to Prepare for a Disaster
Because disasters are nearly as unpredictable as the weather, it isn’t possible to be completely prepared for every type of disaster that may, or may not happen to you. It will be in your best interest to educate yourself on the types of disasters that are most common to your area, thereby, giving you a starting point for where you can begin to prepare.
Some general ways in which you can prepare for any type of emergency is to establish an evacuation plan for your entire family. Part of an evacuation plan includes designating a meeting place once everyone is outside of the home. This can be instrumental in helping to ensure that everyone is safe. In addition to having an evacuation plan, when possible have a storage of food supply, drinking water, first-aid supplies, and other essential items. Depending on the severity of the disaster, help can be days away from reaching you; which means that it will be up to you to survive.
Other items that aren’t necessarily required for survival, but can be nice to have include a change of clothes, flashlights or candles, a heat source, radio, toilet paper, and many other such items. In addition to having supplies that will become vital for survival, there are a few other things that you need to prepare ahead of time. According to ready.gov these things should include:
1. Have a Plan
Things to consider when making a disaster relief plan, include knowing how you, your family members and household will receive and be alerted to emergency alerts and warnings. Are you going to rely on emergency alerts via your cell phone, local news stations, or neighbors? Establish a shelter plan that establishes a safe location for everyone to find a safe place to go or stay for extra protection. Depending on the disaster, the safest location will vary. Be sure that you have a plan in place for the most common disasters for your area.
Don’t forget in situations where you are unaware of outside conditions, it may be best to simply shelter in place. In situations where you are unable to shelter in place and will need to evacuate as quickly as quickly as possible; be sure that you have an evacuation plan/route in place and that all members of your family are aware of the plan and know where to meet. Because there is an increased chance of evacuating and becoming separated from family members, establish a communication plan that everyone knows, to enable you to find and communicate with each other once you have safely evacuated your home.
During an emergency, or quickly following one, it is going to be imperative that you know where and how to contact family members and who to call for help. This also includes having important numbers, such as gas and electrical companies, where they can be accessed and notified in the event of an emergency or a disaster.
For families that have small children, be sure that you include in your disaster plan where children can be found. This may be the name or their school or child care provider. For families, where both parents work outside of the home, include all contact information for both parents—cell phone and work contact information.
When establishing your emergency plan, be sure that no single person of your household feels as though they should be responsible for carrying out the plan. Assign different responsibilities to different members of your household, and develop a strategy of how you will all work together as a team to ensure everyone’s safety.
2. Consider Your Specific Household Needs
No two households are the same, which means that no two-disaster relief, emergency preparedness plans are going to be the same. When creating a plan, take into consideration what supplies you’ll need to meet your daily responsibilities. Discuss what those needs and responsibilities are and how others can provide assistance during a disaster to ensure that all the needs and responsibilities are met.
Specific needs to consider include, dietary needs, medical needs—prescriptions and equipment, disabilities, language barriers, cultural and religious considerations, pets or service animals, school-aged children outside of the home. Because no one else will know your household’s unique needs better than you, it is going to be critical that you have a plan and are prepared to meet those needs until help arrives.
3.Practice Your Plan
Having a well thought out plan is a good start but it isn’t enough. Once you have developed a customized, emergency/disaster relief plan, that will accommodate your family’s unique needs it is time to put it to practice. You’ll want to have a couple of practice runs with your plan to ensure that it is effective and covers everything you need. Don’t run the risk of being caught in an emergency situation only to then discover that your plan was lacking somewhere, or members of your family didn’t know what to do, who to call, where to meet, or how to contact each other. Although you won’t be able to practice every component of an emergency plan, it is advised that you practice as much as you can. Review it often and practice annually to ensure that any changes made to the plan are rehearsed and everyone is aware of their responsibilities.
Preparing for a natural disaster is only half the battle, relief and recovery following is when most will say the real work begins. Picking up the pieces, and working to put life back together following a natural disaster can be emotionally draining, financially crippling and even terrifying. Knowing where to find help to begin rebuilding your home and life, cleaning up and starting over, can make the daunting task a little lighter and easier to face.
Despite all of your best efforts, and your preparedness, there can come natural disasters that you are not prepared for. When this happens, there are organizations and resources in place that can help you get back on your feet and start rebuilding your life. These organizations include the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and many local and religious organizations that are ready and willing to lend a hand.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross has many missions that they provide resources and aid to, one of the biggest is that of disaster relief. According to redcross.org, they respond to an emergency every eight-minutes! In addition to responding to emergencies quickly, on average they respond to more than 62,000 disasters every year. Out of those 62,000 disasters, approximately ninety percent were home fires.
Regardless of the type of disaster, the American Red Cross helps to provide those affected with clean drinking water, safe shelter, and hot meals. When multiple disasters occur at the same time, the Red Cross has the resources and personnel needed to go where they are needed, when they are needed. Part of the reason that the Red Cross is able to provide relief and aid to everyone when needed is because the Red Cross disaster relief workers are comprised of ninety-five percent volunteers.
The mission of the American Red Cross is to meet the immediate needs as a result of a disaster for individuals, families and communities. Whether the disaster is big or small, the American Red Cross is there to provide immediate disaster relief that can make a difficult situation easier to get through.
All of the resources and aid that the Red Cross is able to provide is only available as a result of the generous financial donations that they receive throughout the year. Whether it is a devastating wildfire, hurricane or a home fire, the Red Cross is there. Taking care of those who are hit hardest first, but providing relief to all who need it.
In 2017 alone, the Red Cross was able to respond to 242 large disasters across the world, opened 1,100 emergency shelters, served 13.6 million meals and snacks, along with distributing seven-million relief items. All of this was just in response to the large disasters that occurred. None of this, nor the hot meals, clean water and shelter would have been available to those in need without generous donors. Which is why it is so important that the Red Cross continues to receive monetary donations, where ninety cents out of every dollar goes to humanitarian services and aid. When you donate to the Red Cross through https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/ you are part of a movement of providing help, relief and aid to those in need.
Habitat for Humanity
The vision of Habitat for Humanity is to see a world where every inhabitant has a decent place to live and call home. As a global, non-profit housing organization, they work in all fifty states across the United States and in approximately seventy different countries across the globe. In order to achieve their vision, they work to build strength, stability and self-reliance among those families and individuals who are in need of decent and affordable housing. Those who qualify for housing through Habitat for Humanity, work alongside volunteers to build their home, therefore, establishing an affordable mortgage that they can then afford to pay upon completion of their home.
When applying for housing through Habitat for Humanity, there is an application process that each family must go through. Each local Habitat for Humanity’s family selection committee, convenes and selects candidates based on three different criteria. These criteria are:
· The level of need for the applicant and their family.
· Their willingness to partner and work with Habitat for Humanity to build their home.
· Their ability to pay their mortgage, through an affordable payment plan.
These three criteria are taken into consideration, because every candidate that is selected, contributes and invests hundreds of their own hours towards labor and sweat equity into their home alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers. This is a requirement in addition to being financially able to pay an affordable mortgage and receiving financial education. Habitat for Humanity follows a nondiscriminatory policy when determining the family’s eligibility. Race and religion are not a factor when selecting homeowners for Habitat for Humanity homes.
Not only does Habitat for Humanity provide families with new homes, they also work in different ways to ensure that the needs of families are being met in different areas. This is achieved through renovating existing home, which is common in many urban areas. Following a natural disaster, Habitat’s Disaster Response teams work with local communities to address and meet housing needs. In addition, Habitat’s advocacy works tirelessly to raise awareness and support for decent and affordable housing around the world. Outside of North America, Habitat for Humanity works with partner organizations, so that they can serve and help even more families through innovative financing methods.
As a non-profit organization, all homes that are built are done on a not-for-profit basis; as a result, Habitat for Humanity depends on generous monetary donations to continue their work and bring their vision to life. With financial donations, families are able to build personal strength, stability and create independence by having a safe and secure place that they can call home.
While, Habitat for Humanity does rely on financial donations, they accept donations of reusable or surplus building materials, furniture and appliances to assist with building and renovating homes. In addition, Habitat for Humanity has local home improvement stores, called Habitat ReStores where they sell such items as, reusable and surplus building materials, furniture and appliances at a fraction of the retail price to the general public. All proceeds are then used to build strength, stability and self-reliance both locally and around the world.
When making a financial contribution to any organization, many might wonder where the funds go or how they are used. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, when donations are made the giver may designate their contribution to go in support of the U.S. affiliate, national organization or another program of their choosing. Others elect to have their donation be undesignated, which are then invested through the Global Impact Fund, where they are dispersed to areas where they will have the greatest impact.
In recent years, more and more natural disasters have wreaked havoc across the globe, leaving a path of destruction and devastation behind. When a disaster strikes, relief is needed in every aspect in the lives of those affected. The idea of disaster relief, is to provide necessary items to help those affected by a disaster to rebuild their lives and bring hope for the future.
Delivering Good, is a non-profit organization that is committed to providing assistance and support to communities that are affected by a natural disaster in the days, weeks, months and even years following the initial disaster. Some of the products that they have been able to distribute include apparel, accessories, shoes, home furnishings, toys, books and other useful items that can help those suffering to achieve a sense of normalcy as they work to rebuild their lives.
One thing that makes Delivering Good different than most other disaster relief organizations, is that they unite retailers, manufacturers, foundations and individuals to provide relief to those who suffer from the effects of a natural disaster or poverty. This is achieved by the generous new product donations that they receive from companies in the fashion, home and children’s industries.
Since 1985, Delivering Good has been able to donate over $1.9 billion dollars’ worth of donated products, providing relief to individuals and families across the globe. With all the donations that Delivering Good receives, a whopping ninety-eight percent is distributed to those in need. This makes Delivering Good an extremely efficient charity.
In addition to the product donations that Delivering Good receives, they also accept financial donations that aid them in their efforts. If you would like to donate to Delivering Good’s mission, you can make a monetary donation through A Good Cause’s disaster relief campaign found on their website at: https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/disaster-relief/
Goodwill Industries is a little bit different than the other organizations, in the fact that they provide training programs, assistance with job placement, and other community-based programs to help enhance people’s dignity and quality of life. This organization is geared towards those who have experienced a life disaster of some sorts and are struggling to make ends meet. Goodwill Industries was founded by Reverend Edgar J. Helms of Boston. He is credited with Goodwill’s philosophy of “a hand up, not a hand out”, when he began to collect used household goods and clothing from wealthier communities in the Boston area. He then hired individuals who were poor to mend and repair the items, so that they could then be resold, or given to those who worked on them.
The work and mission of Goodwill Industries has grown beyond the Boston area, with a global reach. Regardless of the location, the mission remains the same—providing employment, education, and skill-building opportunities. In 2018 alone, Goodwill Industries was able to help more than 35.5 million people, according to the Goodwill Industries website. Being able to provide on-the-job training, gives those who have experienced a financial, job, or family disaster the ability to apply for jobs that they otherwise might not have been qualified for. Education often leads to a better job, which then leads to better opportunities, ultimately leading to an improved quality of life. Goodwill Industries is able to help turn a disaster into a blessing in disguise through education and training.
Whether you’ve experienced a disaster yourself and have been blessed by the generosity and kindness of others through disaster relief; if you feel inclined to help others, donating to disaster relief to be very rewarding. Each of these non-profit organizations and many others are committed to helping communities and families rebuild following a disaster.
Some disasters come with some warning, that gives you time to prepare and get out of the way, others come very unexpectedly. Whether you have time to prepare or not, chances are you will need some outside help to rebuild, get back on your feet and keep moving forward. This help can come in the form of a hot meal to keep your energy up, safe shelter to stay until you can return home, or the resources necessary to start over.
Cancer. It is a word that strikes fear into everyone. “We all live with cancer, whether it is present in ourselves or affects someone we love.” “Cancer is something that touches everyone’s lives.” These quotes by Dwayne Johnson and Ellen Pompeo respectively, accurately portray the reality of cancer. It affects everyone, not just those battling the disease in person.
What is cancer? While there are many different types with their own definitions, Webster’s dictionary defines the general term “cancer” as:
a malignant tumor of potentially unlimited growth that expands locally by invasion and systemically by metastasis
something evil or malignant that spreads destructively
While not a medical definition, the second definition perfectly describes the tortuous disease that is cancer, not just for the patient but everyone around them. It is evil, and like everything else evil in this world, should be eradicated. Scientists, doctors, and researchers around the world work around the clock trying to do just that. There is a well-known quote commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, “ scientia potentia est” or “Knowledge is Power.” Dan Brown said, “We all fear what we do not understand.” Knowledge does give us power, and the more we know about something, the less scary it generally becomes. Hopefully as research continues, we will learn more, and it will make it much less scary.
The National Cancer Institute has provided several statistics they call, “The Burden of Cancer in the United States.” These statistics were compiled in 2017 and include:
In 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.
The most common cancers (listed in descending order according to estimated new cases in 2018) are breast cancer, lung and bronchus cancer, prostate cancer, colon and rectum cancer, melanoma of the skin, bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, kidney and renal pelvis cancer, endometrial cancer, leukemia, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, and liver cancer.
The number of new cases of cancer (cancer incidence) is 439.2 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 cases).
The number of cancer deaths (cancer mortality) is 163.5 per 100,000 men and women per year (based on 2011–2015 deaths).
Cancer mortality is higher among men than women (196.8 per 100,000 men and 139.6 per 100,000 women). When comparing groups based on race/ethnicity and sex, cancer mortality is highest in African American men (239.9 per 100,000) and lowest in Asian/Pacific Islander women (88.3 per 100,000).
In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States. The number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 20.3 million by 2026.
Approximately 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes (based on 2013–2015 data).
In 2017, an estimated 15,270 children and adolescents ages 0 to 19 were diagnosed with cancer and 1,790 died of the disease.
Estimated national expenditures for cancer care in the United States in 2017 were $147.3 billion. In future years, costs are likely to increase as the population ages and cancer prevalence increases. Costs are also likely to increase as new, and often expensive, treatments are adopted as standards of care.
Let’s take a look at some world-wide statistics, they are as follows:
Cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide. In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths worldwide.
57% of new cancer cases in 2012 occurred in less developed regions of the world that include Central America and parts of Africa and Asia; 65% of cancer deaths also occurred in these regions.
The number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 23.6 million by 2030.
As you can see from these statistics, not many people in this world are spared by the monster that is cancer. Chances are very high that you know at least one person who has been diagnosed with this terrible disease and have had to deal with the trauma that comes with that.
History of Cancer
Wikipedia states that the first recorded evidence of cancer comes from the Edwin Smith Papyrus written around 1,600 BCE. There is even discussion among historians that this scroll is actually a fragment of a writing from 2,500 BCE. This writing contains the earliest description of cancer, and treatment by cauterization of the breasts. Hippocrates, a greek physician living around 350 BCE, gave us the name Cancer based on the way that a cut tumor looked like a crab, or karkinos in Greek. He also coined the term carcinoma. He described several types of cancers, and various treatments involving diet, blood-letting, and laxatives.
The following chart is from Steven I. Hajdu’s article series, “Landmarks in the History of Cancer.” This chart shows the years that these advances in knowledge took place, in addition to showing a world event that happened at the same time for reference.
Breast cancer described
Construction of Stonehenge
Herbal, mineral, and arsenic therapy, and soft tissue tumor described
Hebrews are in captivity in Egypt
Cancer, carcinoma, scirrhus and condyloma introduced, skin, mouth, stomach and breast cancers, cautery
Walls built around Rome
Cancer surgery, breast cancer in axilla, lymphedema of the arm, cancer of the liver, colon and spleen, superficial and deep cancers, mixture of honey, egg white, and cabbage for inoperable cancer
Roman invasion of Britain
Internal remedies before and after surgery, book on drugs published
Nero commits suicide
Nonulcerated and ulcerated uterine cancers
Seismograph developed in China
Sarcoma introduced, yellow and black bile, and humoral theories, first pharmacy in Rome
Afghanistan invaded by Huns
Necrosis in cancer identified
Visigoths invade Italy
Mastectomy, cancer of the cervix, vulva and anus described
Mohammed is born
Cancer of intestines described, cancer is painless
Dome of the Rock completed
Bile duct and intestinal obstructions
Algiers founded by Arabs
Polypectomy by wire loop
Paper money is printed in China
Medical school in Salerno and Montpellier
Norman conquest of England
Bloodletting prior to surgery, no extensive surgery
University of Paris founded
Cancer of the esophagus, esophageal cannula for stricture and injection of nourishment, rectal obstruction, hysterectomy
University is founded at Oxford
Notre Dame of Paris built
The Pope prohibits surgery
Cancer is locally invasive, wide excision, nasopharyngeal cancer; livid tumors are inoperable, general anesthesia with opium
Marco Polo returns to Italy
Clinical separation of benign and malignant breast tumors, surgeons learn regional anatomy
Dante writes the Divine Comedy
Scirrhus and carcinoma are cancers, classification according to size, site and depth, theory of external carcinogens in England
Prosecution for body‐snatching
Cancers are cold, diet and purgatives for treatment
Building the Bastille in Paris
Anorectal cancers are firm and incurable
Scotts defeat the English at Chevy Chase
Hajdu’s is a 7 part series and contains vast amounts of fascinating historical information on both the history of cancer as well as the history of treatments for it. I highly recommend checking them out.
The “War on Cancer” began in 1971 when the National Cancer Act became law. This law became the basis for most cancer treatment organizations, and to help these organizations gain more power to increase research. The United States and other developed nations have spent countless hours and countless dollars on the War. Despite all of this effort however, from 1950 to 2005, death rates have only dropped 5%. However, this could account for higher life expectancy and better mortality rates with cancer.
Cancer Causes and How to Reduce Risk
So what causes cancer? The answers to this are a little convoluted. While we have some scientific evidence as to what can cause cancer, the American Cancer Society (ACS) states there is much we still don’t know. The ACS has put together a list of some of the more prominent causes:
Smoking and Tobacco use, including e-cigarettes can cause cancer of the lungs, mouth, throat, etc.
Excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet, lack of exercise, and obesity are factors as well.
UV Radiation from the sun can cause skin cancer and prolonged exposure to gamma radiation and x-rays can also be factors. Make sure you wear sunscreen!
Infections are linked to 15%-20% of cancers worldwide. While generally not cancer causing on their own, they can mutate or weaken cells that can then become cancerous later in life.
Viruses, including HIV and HPV, have been linked to many different types of cancers, primarily in the lower parts of the body such as the genitals. HIV and other viruses that weaken the immune system, also play a role in lowering your body’s natural defense system.
Genetics, including family genetics play a role as well. It can greatly increase your risk of certain cancers, as well as your body’s natural ability to fight off those cancers.
How can we reduce our risk of cancer? The Mayo Clinic offers these 7 easy tips:
Do not use any tobacco products and avoid secondhand smoke as well.
Eat a healthy diet including:
Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Choose fewer high calorie foods including refined sugars.
Limit alcohol use. Alcohol consumption has been linked to cancers of the breasts, colon, lungs, liver, and colon.
Limit processed meats.
Maintain a healthy weight and stay physically active.
Protect yourself from the sun:
Avoid the midday sun as it is stronger and has more UV rays.
Stay in the shade, or use a wide brimmed hat.
Use at minimum, SPF 30 sunscreen and be vigilant about reapplying especially when swimming or spending time in water.
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These can be just as damaging as actual sunlight.
Get vaccinated. As well as protecting you from a host of diseases that can injure you or even kill you, be sure to get the Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines to protect against liver, cervical, and other genital cancers.
Avoid risky behaviors. Be sure to practice safe sex procedures such as wearing condoms and limiting sexual partners. Also, avoid sharing or coming into contact with used needles.
Regular self-exams, cancer screenings, and regular medical check-ups can make all the difference. In many cases, cancer that is caught as quickly as possible, has a higher chance of going into remission.
These helpful tips can make a tremendous difference in being able to keep the poison of cancer at bay.
A History of Treatment
Throughout recorded time, cancer treatments have been as numerous and varied as the diseases they propose to treat. Beginning with Hippocrates and bloodletting etc, cancer treatment has evolved quite drastically. In the beginning, the concept of an autopsy was not common, and in fact was not only frowned upon, but outright banned by the Pope at one point.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, dissection and autopsy became more prevalent and cancer understanding dramatically improved. It was discovered that cancer metastasises (spreads throughout the body from the initial tumor). It was thought at the time, that cancer could be contagious as well. Surgery was considered the best option, however, until the 19th century, it was not safe as hygiene was not great. In the late 19th century, Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radiation and its practical applications in medicine. Non-surgical radiation became a new substitute for tumor removal surgery.
Treatment Options Today
In modern times, scientists and researchers have been studying the myriad of cancer more fiercely than ever. According to a Forbes Magazine article from December 2018, there are many new advancements on the horizon we should look out for. These include:
Eventually, we moved to newer medications in addition to the stand-bys of surgery and radiation. After a study of Japanese civilians after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs were dropped, it was also discovered that a bone marrow transplant could be very effective for certain cancer types.
Immunotherapy: This technique involves using cells to activate or suppress parts of the body’s immune system. This technique has been very effective in certain individuals, though more research is needed to understand why it has not worked for everyone.
Liquid Biopsy Tests: These easy, simple, blood tests will assist doctors in identifying cancer much more quickly than tests currently available. They are cheaper, and they can be even more accurate than current methods.
Reducing Side Effects of Treatments: Numerous studies have been done or are in the works that are helping those who are in remission deal with the side effects of their cancer treatments.
Organiods: This exciting new technology allows scientists to create tiny organs using the patient’s tissues and then test out cancer treatments on them first before putting the patient at risk of side effects, and lowered hopes.
The National Cancer Institute advises the treatment options that are in use today are in some ways similar to those that were used in historical times. These include:
Surgery: Generally safe, this method attempts to remove the cancerous tumors in one fell swoop so they cannot reproduce and spread.
Radiation: Targeted blasts of radiation designed to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. This method unfortunately also damages healthy cells.
Chemotherapy: Using chemicals to attempt to kill the bad cancerous cells. Unfortunately this method also damages healthy cells which can lead to a host of other Immune issues.
Hormone Therapy: This slows or stops the production of hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. This is primarily used in breast, testicular, and prostate cancers as the cancers utilize these hormones to grow and reproduce.
Stem Cell Transplant: Stem cell research has incredible medical and scientific applications. In this instance, healthy blood producing stem cells are transferred into the cancer patient to replace those that chemotherapy or radiation killed.
Medical News Today advises that while the current treatments are great, there are many more new methods coming out. Some favorites include:
Therapeutic Viruses or Dendritic Viruses: In this method, Dendrites are removed from the patient’s body. (These cells are key in helping the body’s immune system.) These cells are then amped up and “taught” how to kill specific cancer cells. They are injected back into the body and they go on a John Wick type killing spree, destroying all cancer cells in their path. As awesome as this sounds, there are still many risks, and healthy tissue can still be damaged.
Nanoparticles: While seemingly the stuff of science fiction, these microscopic particles can be taught where to go and what to attack. There has already been strides in treating cancer with these particles hyperthermically where the cells heat up and kill the cancer cells from inside themselves.
Starving Tumors: This treatment involves blocking the nutrients the cancer cells need to survive. This causes them to die on their own.
Supporting Cancer Patients
Terri Clark said, “When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too.” While I personally have not been affected myself or in my immediate family, I know many people who have been. In fact, some of my dearest friends have a little girl who was recently diagnosed. The way the community has come out to support her and her family has been truly incredible. Local restaurants have held fundraisers, someone organized a 5k event, and the donations and love and support from everyone has been tremendous.
Gilda Radner said, “Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” Now that our friend or family member is in this club, how can we help and support them and show them we care? These are important questions because we don’t want to say the wrong things, or force the ones we love, who may not be feeling top notch, into doing things they don’t want to.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as well as Cancer.net are excellent resources and offer these helpful tips:
Ask before you visit. Sometimes the individuals are not having a good day. This could be because of medication, lack of sleep, general exhaustion, etc. Let them decide and sometimes change their minds, and don’t overstay your welcome.
Set-up a phone team. This means only one person, not 100 calls the patient and then updates everyone else. This saves the patient from endless phone calls and having to repeat the same thing over again.
Offer to help. This may sound easy enough, but simply getting groceries, taking care of their lawn, picking up their kids, or even doing laundry can be an enormous help. Simply make a list of the things you are willing to do to help, and give it to them. Then make sure you follow through.
Listen. This may be one of the most important ways we can help. If you feel awkward and don’t know how to begin the conversation or what to say, be honest. Be loving, understanding, and polite. Don’t worry too much about the awkwardness. This is new, confusing, and different for them as well. Also, be sure to not only talk about cancer. Find other important or frivolous lines of conversation. Their body is being controlled by cancer, don’t let their thoughts all be as well.
Everyone’s cancer is different. This is important to remember. Do not compare someone you know, or even your own cancer experience to theirs. Everyone deals with everything in their own way.
Give thoughtful gifts. Making them dinner, sending flowers, etc. sound great on the surface but dietary restrictions, nausea, and weakened immune systems may render these gifts useless to the patient. Instead write them a letter, make a video, gift them a cleaning gift card, etc.
Support their family members. While the patient bears the brunt of the treatments and the diagnosis, their caregivers are dealing in their own way as well. Offer to have your partner/spouse take theirs out for a girls/boys night. Have their kids come to your house for a playdate. This helps these caregivers get out, and still remember to live their lives.
Support yourself. Katie Reed said, “Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” Make sure you have given yourself time to process and your own feelings, so you can be emotionally available to the individual.
Allow them to feel. Sometimes they will want to be sad, and while it can be good to help them get out of it, it’s important to remember that sorrow is an emotion too. Sometimes you need to cry it out so you can re-center and take on the world.
Cancer is not contagious! Don’t withhold normal, appropriate physical touch that you are used to giving them. Cancer is marginalizing enough, don’t give it more power.
Love them. Think of these words by Regina Brett, “Cancer is messy and scary. You throw everything at it, but don’t forget to throw love at it. It turns out that might be the best weapon of all.”
How can I help?
Clint Eastwood said, “Movies are fun, but they are no cure for cancer.” As a huge movie buff, this one stood out to me and made me think. I take it to mean, what have I done to help? I have gone to the movies, bought them, etc. But have I donated to cancer research? Have I been as helpful as I could have been to family or friends who needed me? This is not just limited to movies of course. We all have our priorities in spending money and time, maybe it’s time to reevaluate some of that time.
Now, I’m not saying you need to give every penny you have to cancer research, or spend every waking moment with someone who has cancer. But we can all do more! Here are some good ways you can help the Cause:
Volunteering: With permission, visit the cancer wards of your hospital. Bring teddy bears to kids, sing or play music for the patients, and ask the hospital or institute how else you can be involved. Get involved in community fundraisers and events.
Large Scale Fundraising: No surprise here, but money is the number one way we can assist. Research is expensive, but it is research into the causes and effects of cancer that will beat this monster once and for all. While donating to separate organizations is great, cancer research is a team effort. Using something like www.aGoodCause.com‘s “End Cancer” Campaign is all about this teamwork. This is a first of its kind, specialized crowdfunding campaign designed to raise money for several life-saving organizations at once. It can be easily shared on social media, and you can securely donate one time, or on a recurring basis. You don’t even need to create an account or sign in to donate. Check it out at: www.agoodcause.com/campaigns/end-cancer/. This one of a kind campaign distributes funds raised directly to organizations like The American Cancer Society, The Huntsman Cancer Foundation, the Mayo Clinic, and the World Cancer Research Fund.
Individual Fundraising: Medical bills are expensive, and sometimes, cancer treatments don’t fall under Health Insurance. To help your friends/families/acquaintances, encourage them to set up a crowdfunding fundraiser or set one up for them. It only takes a few minutes to get it running and it can help life a huge weight. A website like www.agoodcause.com is a great tool to help support your friends and family in this way. Plus, its fees are less than it’s colleagues, and the money can be placed into your account immediately rather than having to wait a set amount of time.
“Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” – John Diamon
We must have hope that things can be better. Now that you know a little more about cancer, maybe it’s not quite as scary as the monster in the closet because you know its there. Remember what we talked about earlier, “Knowledge is Power!” Be helpful to your friends and family members. Do not abandon them in their time of need, and be sure to listen to their needs. Help raise funds and if you are not in a position to donate money, then donate time. Time is just as valuable as money, and can at times make even more of a difference. There is always something you can do to help. Princess Diana said, “Life is mostly froth and bubble, but two things stand like stone: friendship in another’s trials and courage in your own.” Always, always, choose friendship.
Cancer Help Line – 800-227-2345
A 24/7 Hotline for those diagnosed and their caregivers to receive love, support, and a listening ear.
Suicide Hotline – 800-273-8255
A 24/7 Hotline for people struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide in general and also after a bad cancer diagnosis.
Crisis Text Line – Text RISE or CONNECT to 741-741
A 24/7 Textline for people struggling with feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide in general and also after a bad cancer diagnosis.
Author: Elijah Brandley
“7 Healthy Habits That Can Reduce Your Risk of Cancer.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 28 Nov. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816.
Banner, Valerie. “10 Tips for Supporting a Friend with Cancer.” Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, www.mskcc.org/blog/10-tips-supporting-friend.
“Cancer Statistics.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/statistics.
Cohut, Maria. “Cancer: How Close Are We to Curing It?” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 2 Mar. 2018, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321106.php.
Forster, Victoria. “Five Things To Look Out For In Cancer Research In 2019.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 Dec. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/victoriaforster/2018/12/28/five-things-to-look-out-for-in-cancer-research-in-2019/#20fbcce91304.
Hajdu, Steven I. “A Note from History: Landmarks in History of Cancer, Part 1.” Cancer, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 19 Oct. 2010, onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cncr.25553.
“History of Cancer.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 10 May 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_cancer.
“Supporting a Friend Who Has Cancer.” Cancer.Net, 7 Jan. 2019, www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/talking-with-family-and-friends/supporting-friend-who-has-cancer.
“Types of Cancer Treatment.” National Cancer Institute, www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/types.“What Causes Cancer?” American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes.html.
“We don’t know them all, but we owe them all.” –Unknown
For many Americans, the term “veteran” is one that we are familiar with. We’ve heard it in reference to “Veteran’s Day”, War Veterans, World War II veteran, Vietnam veteran, and many more. According to Wikipedia, a veteran is defined as “A person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field. A military veteran is a person who has served and is no longer serving in the armed forces. Those veterans that have had direct exposure to acts of military conflict may also be referred to as war veterans.”Veterans are also those who have seen combat and are still serving in the armed forces.
The effects of war and combat on veterans has far-reaching effects that extend far away and long after the battlefield has ended. Some wounds are obvious to spot, such as, physical deformities and amputations whereas, some are harder to see. Some veterans return home with physical reminders in the form of amputations, burns, paralyzed, and even bullet holes. Unfortunately, many veterans return from combat with scars and wounds that they battle with behind closed doors. For many, that includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bi-polar disorder (manic-depression), sleep disorder, substance dependence and more. Although, many do return home, with invisible scars and wounds of war, it is important to note that not every veteran who sees conflict returns home “broken” or “damaged” as is often depicted in movies and on television.
It is when they have returned home and are no longer faced with life-threatening conflict that many of these side-effects are made known. For some the side-effects of war and conflict rear their ugly head shortly after returning home, for other veterans it takes longer for the ill-effects of war to manifest themselves. Regardless of when or if depression, anxiety and other effects are made known, it is imperative that veterans receive the help that they need and have earned.
Upon returning home from war, service members are not the only ones who have to make an adjustment to the “new normal”. Often times their spouse and children have become accustomed to daily life without them, operating daily as a single-parent family for the time that their service member is away. Upon return home, schedules the parental roles have to be redefined. This adjustment is not always easily made as young children often have a hard time adjusting to another parent’s discipline, whereas older children can push back to see what they will be able to get away with.
Because returning home is an adjustment period for everyone involved, it is no surprise that some service members have a harder time than others. This is especially true for those who have suffered an injury due to combat, or have lost fellow comrades in combat. We know that the effects of war can have far-reaching effects that service members carry with them long after the dust has settled on the battlefield. Because the side-effects are varied and affect a vast array of individuals, it is imperative that resources that make it easier for service members to adjust back into their life are easily and readily available.
Through organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund, veterans and their families have access to resources that can aid them through the transition home and provide treatment for injuries—physical and mental that, sustained as a result of their service to our great nation.
Wounded Warrior Project
According to the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, there are over 52,000 service men and women who have been physically injured during recent military conflicts. Additionally, there are 500,000 veterans currently living with invisible wounds as a result of their military service. These wounds include depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. A whopping, 320,000 veterans are experiencing a debilitating brain injury.
With these staggering numbers, it is apparent that there is a need for resources, and services to repay veterans for their service and sacrifice. That is why it is the mission of the Wounded Warrior Project to aid veterans who have or are serving in our nation’s military on or after September 11, 2001 and have suffered a physical or mental injury as a result.
There are a variety of programs and resources available to veterans and their families, through the Wounded Warrior Project. These programs and resources include:
Connecting to Others
Whether you are a veteran seeking support or the caregiver, Wounded Warrior Project has support groups to help you through. When you connect with others through Wounded Warrior Project, you have access to a listening ear, a helping hand and a community of supporters who are there to help you on your way to success. There are support groups, whose mission is to provide help and support to veterans and their family members and caregivers.
One out of every three veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Surprisingly, that same statistic, one out of three feel as though they do not receive the mental health that they need in order to cope. In order to address the need to meet the demand, Wounded Warrior Project, has established interactive programs, rehabilitative retreats and professional services. These programs are designed to help and enable veterans to build the resilience that they need in order to be able to overcome the many mental health challenges that many veterans encounter upon returning home.
It is not that uncommon for veterans to sustain a physical injury through their time in the service. Not all physical injuries are visible to others, some are injuries that prevent them from being physically active, getting into shape, or back and joint problems. Other physical injuries are more obvious in the form of missing limbs, confined to a wheelchair, burns, and more. Regardless of the physical injury, Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping veterans realize how strong they are despite their injury and to help them see results. The goal of the Wounded Warrior Project’s physical wellness support is to help veterans eat better, feel better and sleep better.
Career and VA Benefits Counseling
When veterans transition out of the service, it can be a challenging time with important conversations that need to be had. One conversation is that of money. While no one ever wants to worry about money or even talk about money, it is an important conversation to have prior to transitioning to civilian life. With the help of Wounded Warrior Project, they make it so that talking about money and finances is inspiring rather than depressing, by helping veterans to realize that their financial goals for the future are in fact possible. This includes learning more about the benefits that they have earned as a result of their service, how to access and get their benefits, finding a career path, or even finding a job that will help them along their career path. Wounded Warrior Project is there to help veterans, every step of the way navigating their career and VA benefits following their military service.
When given the right support and resources needed, every veteran, every warrior has the ability to achieve and live a civilian life, post military service that is worth living. The Independence Program that is offered through Wounded Warrior Project, was designed to help any veteran who is suffering from a moderate-to-severe brain injury, spinal cord injury, or a neurological condition, to make and take positive steps towards living an independent life outside of the military.
Because every injury and veteran are different, Wounded Warrior Project works as a team with each veteran and their family to assess their needs, set goals and build a personalized plan that will be the most beneficial to them. Through the team of support, veterans are able to work towards gaining their independence, while families and caregivers are able to find some relief by sharing the burden of caring for their loved one.
If you would like to contribute and help Wounded Warrior Project continue to provide these services to wounded veterans and their families, you can make a donation through the Veterans Aid Coalition campaign found on https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/. Through the generous donations that Wounded Warrior Project receives, they are able to provide all programs and resources to veterans in need, free of charge.
Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust
The mission of the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust is to empower veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. For over thirty years, the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Charitable Service Trust has been playing an instrumental role in supporting and aiding ill and injured veterans and their families. In order for DAV Charitable Service Trust to achieve their mission of helping veterans live life with dignity and respect, they provide support and work to support the needs of veterans. This is achieved through supporting physical and psychological rehabilitation programs, enhance research and mobility for veterans with spinal cord injuries and amputations, aging veterans, aids and shelters for homeless veterans and evaluates and addresses the needs of veterans wounded in recent wars. In addition to supporting the needs of veterans, DAV Charitable Service Trust also supports programs that are intended to provide resources and support to caregivers and families of ill and injured veterans.
The Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust was formed in 1986, as a way to advance programs and services that were offered to better be able to cater to our nation’s veterans, their caregivers and families. The support that the DAV Charitable Service Trust offers to different charitable organizations, helps to ensure that America is fulfilling the promises it has made to those who have made such tremendous sacrifices for national safety and security.
How it Works
Since its founding, the DAV Charitable Service Trust has led a grant program for not-for-profit organizations that provide the necessary resources to fulfill the needs of veterans. These needs include the sick, wounded, homeless, and at-risk veterans across the nation. Because often times the needs of the veterans varies depending on their specific needs and situations, DAV Charitable Service Trust provides grant funds to aid other not-for-profit organizations who can provide various resources and services to meet the needs.
According to the DAV Charitable Service Trust website, the most common grants that they distribute are used to promote food, shelter and other necessary items to veterans who are homeless or at risk-veterans, mobility items for those who have experienced vision or hearing loss or amputations, therapeutic or recreational activities, and education training. Additionally, grants have been issued to aid and support families and caregivers. DAV Charitable Service Trust does not generally provide funds to support advertising, initiatives that are affiliated with any given political party, religious group or campaign, endowment funds, pilot or newly established projects, or funds to acquire or maintain property.
How You Can Help
Every year, DAV Charitable Service Trust has funds to distribute; where they encourage qualified not-for-profit organizations to submit a detailed proposal to be considered for grant funding. Once funding has been approved, veterans and their families can benefit from the services that are available as a result of the funding provided by the DAV Charitable Service Trust.
DAV Charitable Service Trust relies on donations to make grants possible, therefore, they have made it easy for those who would like to make monetary donations. You can make donations online at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/, where all funds are distributed and used to give back to the veterans that protect our freedoms.
Veterans of Foreign Wars
The mission of Veterans of Foreign Wars is to foster camaraderie among United States veterans of overseas conflicts. Furthermore, their mission is to serve all veterans, the military and communities, advocating on behalf of all veterans. Along with their mission of serving veterans, the Veterans of Foreign War’s vision is to ensure that veterans are respected for their selfless service to our country, and that they always receive the entitlements that they have earned, and that veterans and their families are recognized for the sacrifices that they have made.
Veterans of Foreign Wars dates back to 1899 when veterans of the Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Philippine Insurrection in 1899-1902, got together and founded local organizations that secured their rights and benefits that they earned as a result of their service. Following these conflicts, many veterans returned home wounded or sick. At that time, there was no medical car or veterans’ pensions for them, meaning that they had to care and provide for themselves.
As a result, veterans would band together and forming organizations that ultimately became known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. The first chapters were located in Ohio, Colorado and Pennsylvania; quickly growing to a membership today of over 1.6 million members. Since its creation, Veterans of Foreign Wars has played a pivotal role in establishing the Veterans Administration, development of the national cemetery system, fighting for the compensation of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and for veterans who have been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome. In 2008, the Veterans of Foreign Wars achieved a major victory for all veterans, by winning a long-fought battle with the passing of the GI Bill for the 21st century. This bill expanded the educational benefits to active duty service members, members of the guard and reserves who were fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars has been instrumental in helping to fund the building of the Vietnam, Korean War, World War II and Women in Military Service memorials. In addition, in 2005 the Veterans of Foreign Wars contributed to the building of the new Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial, which opened in 2010. In 2015, they became the first supporters of the National Desert Storm War Memorial which will be built in Washington D.C. Aside from these accomplishments, Veterans of Foreign Wars has programs and services that work to support veterans, service members and their families.
Veterans of Foreign Wars also does a lot to help individual veterans and their families by offering a wide range of assistance programs. These programs are designed to help veterans of every generation, by providing free, professional assistance filing for VA claims, scholarships and more. No other organization does more for veterans than the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
VA Claims & Separation Benefits
When transitioning out of the military, there are many frustrations that can arise, especially when filing claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, it is a process that veterans and service members should not attempt to navigate alone. Due to the Veterans of Foreign Wars being comprised of the largest organization of combat veterans, they know how complex this process can be. Therefore, they have established the National Veterans Service (NVS), to help all veterans, service members and their families navigate this process.
The NVS has a nationwide network of VA accredited service officers and pre-discharge representatives who are expertly trained in dealing with the VA. In fact, the VA reports that those who are represented by the Veterans of Foreign Wars have recouped $8.3 billion in earned benefits, with $1.4 billion in 2018 alone. A service officer from the Veterans of Foreign Wars can help veterans when filing for disability compensation, rehabilitation and education programs, pension and death benefits, employment and training programs.
When serving in the armed forces, there are often times unforeseen challenges that veterans, service members and their families face. During this time, the Veterans of Foreign Wars believe that financial difficulties should not be one that veterans, service members or their families should have to face. This was the idea that started the Unmet Needs program, as part of Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Unmet Needs is designed to help America’s military families who encounter unexpected financial difficulties as a result of a deployment, or other military-related activity or injury. When needed, grants can be provided up to $1,500.00 to aid and assist with basic life needs, no repayment is required. To make a difficult situation even easier to bear, Unmet Needs will pay creditors directly with the grant money.
Student Veteran Support
There are many benefits available to veterans that they have earned and deserve to help them further their education. The Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with Student Veterans of America to help provide assistance to veterans to gain access to their educational benefits. Working together, these two organizations are able to help veterans and service members use their GI Bill and other education benefits to help pay for their education without accruing massive amounts of student loan debt.
Mental Wellness Campaign
A shocking statistic illustrates, that 20 veterans commit suicide every single day. Veterans of Foreign Wars is committed to fighting that statistic by changing the narrative and negative stigma that surrounds mental health. In order to do this, Veterans of Foreign Wars has teamed up with other national organizations, such as, Give an Hour, The Campaign to Change Direction, One Mind, PatientsLikeMe, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. Together, these organizations are fighting to provide resources for mental health, and provide intervention for those veterans who have been affected by invisible injuries and emotional stress as a result of their military service.
Located in Washington D.C., the Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial beautifully depicts the strength and vulnerability, loss and renewal of disabled veterans. Those who visit the memorial are able to learn about the lessons of courage, sacrifice, tenacity, loyalty and honor exhibited by those veterans who are disabled. The memorial is dedicated to both living and deceased veterans who serve as a reminder of the cost of freedom and human conflict. This beautiful moment, brings attention to those veterans who have sacrificed and live with a constant reminder of their service to our great nation. Disabled Veterans for Life Memorial Fund accepts donations online or via mail to help disabled veterans across the nation.
How You Can Help
There is a need to help veterans across the country who have given so much and sacrificed so that we may continue to live in a free country. Thanks to organizations such as Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled Veterans Charitable Service Trust and others, veterans are able to have access to resources that help them transition to civilian life and cope with the effects of conflict.
It is important to remember that while a lot of these organizations get attention due to the fact that they help veterans who suffer from mental illness or physical disabilities as a result of their military service, this does not represent veterans as a whole. There are many veterans who are the lucky ones, returning home with no major side-effects, yet still benefit from these organizations and the programs that they offer.
Monetary donations make it possible for these organizations to continue to provide services and resources to veterans and service members. If you would like to donate, you can make a donation at https://agoodcause.com/campaigns/veterans-aide-coalition/ and help to make a difference by giving back to the veterans who serve and sacrifice to protect our freedoms. All donations made via A Good Cause will go directly to charities and organizations whose mission it is to support the physical and psychological rehabilitation of veterans and their families.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” -Anne Frank
Reaping, sowing, giving, receiving, whatever you want to call it, there is a law irrevocably decreed by God, the Universe, Karma, or fate, that the good (and the bad) that you put out into the world will have some kind of impact on you, the people around you, and the people around them, and those around them and those around them. Until that action ripples into eternity. It’s like the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, but instead of getting to Kevin Bacon we get to a better world. (But it’s always a better world with Kevin Bacon in it, or even bacon for that matter.) Then that action will come back to you to bless your life in some way. And if you’re really lucky, you’ll be blessed with more bacon or Kevin Bacon or both! This act of giving and receiving is simply called the law of abundance.
Of course, when we think of abundance we usually think of money or wealth. But abundance or the law of abundance isn’t just about money. If you “google” the law of abundance you will find a great deal of information on abundance and even some information on how to gain an abundance of wealth. But that’s not what the law is about, or the law isn’t just about money. It’s about abundance in anything–clothes, talents, kindness, food. Chances are if you have donated something to GoodWill or a thrift store, or donate your time to helping someone in need you’ve practiced the law of abundance. If even in a small way. The Law of Abundance is about having a plethora of something and sharing your abundance with your neighbor, your friend, or your loved one and then that good comes back to you.
Giving is an interesting concept because most logically we would think that by giving we would have less because we are giving what we have away. But interestingly, research shows that by giving we actually have more. This is the law of abundance.Any mathematician worth his salt would probably tell you that it doesn’t make sense, the math isn’t there. One minus one is always zero. But for some reason when it comes to the law of abundance and giving, one minus one equals two or three or four. It is actually a proven theory not just a theory.
Arthur C. Brooks is an American musician, social scientist, and a columnist for The New York Times. He is also (at the time this article was written) president of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr Brooks gave a speech in February of 2009 at Brigham Young University called “Why Giving Matters” where he discussed the actual science behind giving and the power and gift of giving. He, along with his colleagues at Harvard University collected data from 30,000 American families from all over the nation. What he found was that if you take two families that are similar–same race, same religion, same town, same number of kids, same level of education, everything is the same–except one family gives more to charity than the other family, “the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the non giving family.” Which is statistically attributable to their charitable contribution. As a social scientist, Mr Brooks didn’t believe the data. How can giving actually make you richer? So he did what we all would probably do, he recalculated and checked the numbers again. “In psychology this is what we call cognitive dissonance–two competing ideas in conflict with each other. On the one hand I had a theory that I’d always worked under. On the other hand I had data that completely contradicted the theory. So I did what college professors always do in this case: I got rid of the data.” Like most logical people, he looked at the data and thought; how is it possible that giving actually makes you richer? Mr Brooks checked the data again, “I got new software. I looked for new data. I re-crunched the numbers. I kept coming up with the same thing.” Even after the numbers kept coming up the same, Brooks didn’t believe it and ran the numbers again. This time using something other than money. “I ran the numbers again, and I looked at volunteering. I found the same thing: People who volunteer do better financially. I ran the numbers on blood contributions and blood donations. Think about that — giving blood. You’re not going to get richer if you give blood, are you? Well, yes, you are.” Whether by blood, donations, or volunteer time, giving makes us richer.
But not only does giving make us richer in our finances it also makes us richer in something other than money. We become rich in a currency that really matters most–happiness. After crunching the numbers over and over again, and going over the data, Brooks still had a hard time believing the connection. So he went to a trusted friend. He told his friend that he kept getting the same “crazy result” and it was almost like “the hand of God or something on the economy, and I can’t believe it’s true.” Although Brooks was a devout Roman Catholic, he still wanted the hard evidence. His friend, who specializes in the psychology of charitable giving, says this; “We haven’t just been talking about money. You economists — you worry about money all the time, and money is boring. We worry about something that people really care about – the currency by which we really spend our days – and that’s happiness. We’ve known for 30 years that people who give get happier as a result.” So this is not just some crackpot theory, there is a science behind it. Giving is important and can have a huge impact on your own happiness and your financial, emotional, and physical success.
Giving is often times referred to as a gift or the gift of giving. We have all heard the old adage that it’s better to give than to receive and I believe that’s the blessing of the law of abundance at work. Giving is a gift and there are many people who are actually born with that gift but it’s also a gift that we can all obtain. Trisha Leimer, president of Their Story is Our Story: Giving Voice to Refugees; a nonprofit organization devoted to telling the stories of refugees, shares an experience she had while working with the refugees in Germany. She tells a story about a man who is an Iraq citizen who spent time working with the US government in Iraq. However, when the US Army left Iraq his life was in danger. Therefore, he fled to Germany for refuge and ended up with nothing. Leimer says this about her encounter with the kind Iraq citizen,
“One afternoon at the camp, he sat down to color a mandala. While he colored, a young girl in the camp was stealing my markers and taking them to her tent. I sat across from him and pulled the girl up close. I explained to her that the markers were mine and that I would let her use them if she would just give them back when she was finished. I told her that I didn’t have enough money to keep buying new ones. When he heard that, my Iraqi friend across the table perked up. ‘Do you need money? I can give you money!’ he said sincerely.
I sent the girl off to another table with my markers in her fist, knowing full well they wouldn’t return to me. Then I turned to him and assured him I had plenty of money and that I was just trying to convince her to return the pens. He smiled knowingly and returned to his mandala.
Over the next few hours, he watched me and the other volunteers play with the children and pass out multiple pairs of donated eyeglasses to the adults. When the afternoon was over, my friend quietly helped clean up the mess of papers, markers without lids, spilled water, and stomped on pretzels. After all was in order, he pulled me aside. With a light in his eyes, he pressed two five-euro bills into my hand. “I can’t take your money,” I resisted. He calmly stretched out his hand with the bills and very solemnly, almost pleadingly, uttered these indisputable words: “This is my gift to you.”
With tears in my eyes, I accepted the money. “I will not use this money for me, ”I said with conviction. “This will go toward helping someone else.”
I walked away from that scene feeling like I had been entrusted with much more than this man’s meager wealth. I had been entrusted with the opportunity to allow him to be the giver for the first time in a very long time. When I accepted his money, I allowed him his dignity. Among all the giving done that day in the camp, my friend gave the most by far.”
Even though Leimer’s army friend gave only the small amount that he had, he gave the most that day because he gave all he had. I’m sure he didn’t have a lot to give and maybe sometimes we don’t either. But giving as much as we can, it can help us even more than we know. Sometimes it might be our last dollar, or last minute, or last day. Whatever it is, sometimes giving our all can actually give us all that we need. If only more people gave like Leimer’s friend, if only we gave all that we had for our neighbor, friend or loved one. Imagine the world that we could create!
Imagine many people standing in a circle, then imagine that all those people gave something to the person standing to the left of them. They would all pass something along until everyone in the circle had something. What a blessing that would be. If every person in the world practiced the law of abundance or even if just half of the people in the world practiced the law of abundance, most, if not all of the sorrow and pain and needs of those struggling would be met and exceeded. We would all be taken care of because we all take care and give to those around us.
However, there is one imperative facet of this law of abundance that I don’t think gets mentioned enough. One part that, if forgotten, can break down the whole system of giving. Because, while giving is important, it’s not the value of the gift that’s given. It’s like that old saying, “it’s the thought that counts.” Well, the true meaning of that saying is sometimes lost on all of us. But it really is the thought that counts. It doesn’t mean that the gift is lame or unwanted and we should just accept it because it was the thought that counted. What I see in that saying is that when we give, we give because we want to give and therein lies the true beauty of giving and the law of abundance. The whole gift of giving is lost if it’s something we don’t want to do. When we’re forced to do something or give something, we lose all respect for it and thereby the purpose of it is lost. The purpose of giving is, as Mr Brooks’ friend said, happiness. Who would be happy if we were forced to give?
The other important facet of giving, and this one seems a little obvious but I feel the need to share it anyway, we need to be the ones giving and taking care of those in need. It has to be us doing it, it’s a DIY (do it yourself) project for your soul. Mr Brooks in his address covers this very thing, he states, “You will hear in the coming days and weeks and months that if our country were doing what it should be doing for people in need, then we wouldn’t need private giving, that the government would be taking care of people who need it, and that we would not need you to step in to provide needs. Having looked at the data, I am here to tell you today that the day the government takes over for you in your private charity is the day we get poorer, unhappier, and unhealthier. The process starts right now on the day the government crowds us out. We must demand to take our place as givers and to support our communities of need and people who need the services that we can provide.” Giving is not something we can outsource to someone else, it is our responsibility. That’s the only way this works. If giving is so good for you spiritually, physically, and even fiscally, I’m not sure why anyone would want to delegate their responsibility and blessing of giving.
In conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge to you, the reader. To you, dear reader, I say, go and practice the law of abundance. Practice it for as long as you can commit to at first– whether that’s a day, a week, two weeks, a month. However long you need to commit it, commit to it. Then look around your life, find your abundance and share it. Pick a person–your neighbor, your brother, your friend. Whomever you think needs it the most. Find a need and fill it.
Here are five simple things you can start with now to practice the law of abundance:
Go through your closet and donate unused clothes
Donate 5% more of your paycheck to your charitable organization
Give 10 minutes of your listening ear to a friend
Compliment everyone you meet today
Write a note, text, email, or call a loved one and tell them how much you care
Start with these small tasks and then challenge yourself again. Try doing something every day, or try doing one thing a week. Whatever you do–challenge yourself. Make it a goal to do at least one of these things this week. Try one of these small tasks or do something even simpler like smile at everyone you pass on your path today. Or do something bigger! Whatever it is, as Nike would say, just do it. I dare you. I promise that before you know it you will begin to see a change in the world around you. But most importantly, you’ll begin to see a change in yourself. For the better. Now, that’s even better than bacon!
“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.”
One of the biggest components of implementing a philanthropy lifestyle is to recognize that life is not all about you; there is a bigger picture out there, more people and things that are much bigger than you are as an individual. To be a philanthropist means that you willingly give of your time, talents, and resources for the betterment of others. In fact, to be a philanthropist doesn’t come with stringent requirements that you are to adhere to, such as having copious amounts of money at your disposal, fame or even a multi-million-dollar empire. Every single person, who has the desire to make a difference and make the world and their community a better place has the ability and power to be a philanthropist in their own way.
Being a philanthropist in our everyday lives is easier than you might initially realize. I’d wager that every single person, whether consciously or subconsciously has made the decision to be a philanthropist at one time or another. Think back on all the times you’ve been standing in the checkout line and asked if you would like to round your purchase up to the next whole dollar, or the time that you dropped a couple of bucks or spare pocket change into the Salvation Army’s collection cup, or the time that you selected an ornament off the Angel tree around Christmas. All of these small, seemingly insignificant actions on your part, were all acts of kindness, generosity, to promote the greater good of others—the definition of a philanthropist.
Whether you recognize it or not, chances are you’ve already made steps towards being a philanthropist, which illustrates that every single person has the ability and the power within themselves to make a difference, with or without monetary donations. It starts with small, seemingly insignificant choices that add up to big changes over time. It is the extra spare change that rounds your purchase up to a whole dollar, that contributes to making a difference. It’s the spare pocket change, that means you forgo your morning cup of coffee to donate to a cause that is striving to make the world a better place. It is the child whose life you are having a positive impact on when you select their ornament off the Angel Tree, bringing the spirit of Christmas into their young life; letting them know there is good in the world. Because all of these small actions we make on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, our impact and the difference we make is unmeasurable. David Rockefeller once said: “Philanthropy is involved with basic innovations that transform society.”. When everyone takes these same small steps and implements them into their daily life, every single person is being a philanthropist, whether they realize it or not.
Reasons to Be a Philanthropist
There are countless reasons why people feel the desire to implement philanthropy into their own life. It could be, because they have personally benefited from someone else’s generosity, therefore, seeing someone else in need tugs at their heart strings. A good example of this would be, when you hear about someone who has a need that you can fulfill. In my own life, there was a period of time when my husband was away for work and I was dealing with some health issues, at the same time, my yard quickly got out of control. Before I could arrange for a landscape company to come and remedy the situation, I had multiple neighbors who came over and mowed my yard, sprayed weeds and performed other generous acts for me that I was unable to take care on my own. For others, they feel as though they have been richly blessed, they too must use what they have been given to bless and benefit others lives. To be considered richly blessed, doesn’t mean that you are necessarily blessed with money, it could be that you are blessed with patience, that allows for you to sit and visit with dementia patients, blessed with a caring heart that moves you to volunteer at a soup kitchen; there are a multitude of ways in which you can be richly blessed that allows for you to help others without relying on money to do so. Aside from feeling as though you need to pay it forward there are reasons why people choose to implement the idea of philanthropy into their life. These reasons can include improving your community, your belief system, making a difference and many other things. Whatever, your personal reasons for wanting to be a philanthropist I would recommend you pursue it and allow it to be fueled by your passion for wanting to help others.
Giving Back/Paying It Forward
Whether or not you have personally fallen on hard times, chances are you know someone who has. You’ve seen how friends, family and even complete strangers rally together to provide assistance, financial relief, meals or anything else that people or families may stand in need of. Often times these instances are brought to our attention via social media, text from a close family member or friend, or other media sources. Regardless of where we learn of a need, it is natural for many to want to pitch in, provide help and give back where possible. Some people have a desire to provide support out of the kindness of their hearts, as a means of paying it forward for help they received in their own life, as a way to give back to others hoping that someday those whom they help will continue the trend to pay it forward; or with the hope that they will be blessed for helping others.
A perfect example of this would be an eighty-eight-year-old woman who made sure that she smiled and waved to all the school children that would pass her home on their way to and from school for the past twelve years. Over the years, many students would return her wave and continue on their way. When students learned that the woman would be moving out of her home into an assisted living, nearly four-hundred children showed up on her front law, most came with flowers and cards to express their gratitude to her for the kindness that she showed them over the years through her simple, yet caring gesture of waving as they passed her home.
Improving Your Community
Generally speaking, when you perform an act of generosity and kindness towards another person or group, you are doing so as a means to make a positive change or impact. Sometimes, these actions impact an entire community and not a single person. Prime examples of this includes, feeding the homeless, starting a community garden, volunteering at a local food pantry, or donating clothing and toiletries to a local shelter. All of these actions work to improve your community, by bringing neighbors and citizens together to promote the welfare and greater good of those you live around. You too will notice that your community has an increased sense of community and friendship towards one another.
For a lot of people, their belief system plays a huge factor in a lot of the things that they do in their daily lives. This can be the belief in a Higher Power that expects them to serve their fellow men, it can be the belief in what goes around comes around, or it can be a belief that you can make a difference. Regardless of what your belief system is, or what motivates you, many people claim that it is their belief system that motivated them to perform an act of kindness, generosity or philanthropy. Most are motivated to do these various things because they are commanded to do good, spread joy, lift one another’s burdens, and overall be a good person.
Making a Difference
Another big reason why people adopt and look for opportunities to be a philanthropist, is so they can make a difference in their community, the lives of others, and even the world. Simple acts such as, donating spare change to someone begging on the street corners, or participating in service or charitable projects in your community. Though they may seem like small, insignificant actions on your part, when combined with the efforts of others over a period of time, change begins to happen. It is a good reminder not only to yourself but to those in need, that there is still good in the world. You can be a part of that change, representing the good through implementing philanthropist style actions and choices into your daily life.
A good example of seeing a need, taking initiative and making a difference would be the example of Jennifer Maddox, who was featured on the Today Show and womansday.com. Maddox, a Chicago native who was also a single mom of two young boys, was working as a police officer, who became a security guard at one of Chicago’s sprawling housing projects as a means to bring in more income. While working as a security guard, Maddox realized that many of the children living in the projects would get into trouble simply because they were bored. Most children did not have access to a safe place to play and to be kids. After a while, Maddox was able to provide after-school activities for the children when she wasn’t working. In 2011, she was able to officially establish the nonprofit organization Future Ties, which provides after-school, summer and mentorship for children aged eighteen and under. As a result of her efforts, crime has decreased, and many children who benefited from her efforts have returned to volunteer and help mentor other young children growing up in the projects.
Finding Satisfaction as a Philanthropist
Now that we know why people decide to engage in philanthropy actions, what is it about philanthropy that entices people to keep doing good? I’d argue that one of the biggest reasons why people have a hard time going back to their pre-philanthropy ways is that it is addicting. When you do a good deed for others, it becomes addicting as you feel good doing it. Perhaps part of the good feeling that comes along with it, is the idea of karma or “what goes around, comes around”. When you do a good deed for others, it is then put out into the universe and good deeds will find their way back to you.
Real Life Philanthropist Examples
There are ample opportunities and ways in which you can help others and be a philanthropist in your own way. This makes finding real life examples that you can emulate in your life easy to find. These examples can range from your favorite celebrities, religious figures, professional athletes, people in your own community and neighborhood, along with family members or even complete strangers. When you seen an example of someone implementing a philanthropist lifestyle, and it resonates with you; use it as motivation to make changes in your own life. The most important thing to remember when looking for examples to emulate, is that there is no requirement saying you need copious amounts of money at your disposal to live a philanthropist lifestyle.
Ronald McDonald House
While most of us have not had the experience of staying at or taking advantage of the resources provided at the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald House not only provides services and goods to those who need a place to stay, but also provides an opportunity for those in the community to serve and provide service for those who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House.
The mission of the Ronald McDonald House is to provide a way for families to stay close to their critically ill or injured child, while they receive treatments in a hospital setting. When a child is injured or ill, receiving help and treatment is paramount to a family, which is where the Ronald McDonald House can help. They provide a place for parents and family to stay, where they are close to the hospital without adding to the worry of where they are going to stay, or if they can afford to find a place to stay.
In addition, to providing a place for families to stay at little to no cost, the Ronald McDonald Houses rely on volunteers to provide families with home-cooked meals, a listening ear, nurturing or simply just by being there. This allows for families to focus on their child, without worrying about where their next meal is going to come from. Anyone can donate their time, resources or talents to a local Ronald McDonald House in your own community. You can volunteer to go in and make a home cooked meal, spend time talking to families and being a listening ear. There are countless ways in which you can be a philanthropist for those who are going through a difficult time.
Rotary International is a phenomenal organization that is dedicated to improving their communities and the world. The stated purpose of Rotary International is “to bring together business and professional leaders in order to provide humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.”. This is achieved through the efforts of average, everyday people who work together to make changes that impact the biggest majority. Rotary International has worked tirelessly through the help of dedicated members to eradicate the world from polio, by bringing the polio vaccine to remote parts of the globe.
Not only do they work on a large, global scale, each local chapter works hard to bring change and be a philanthropist in their own communities. Frequently local chapters organize various service projects that enable them to improve their community. This is accomplished through cleaning up local roadways, delivering dictionaries to local school children, or building covered bus stops. There are countless ways in which members of Rotary International perform acts of philanthropy around their communities, states and the world. All it takes is a desire to make a change and everyone can be a philanthropist.
Neighborhoods and Communities
We are all surrounded by neighbors, or live in communities that are known to rally together to support and lend a hand when one of our own is in need. Sometimes this takes on the form of a charity auction, fundraising, bake sales, or other monetary donations. Sometimes, people in our communities and neighborhoods need help, but not monetary help. This is the perfect opportunity for people to practice philanthropy by helping in other ways. Every time a meal is taken into a family that had a new baby, a family member has been in the hospital or experienced a death in the family. Other examples include helping a family to pack up their belongings preparing for a move, helping to clean the home of a family who has fallen on hard times or unable to do so themselves, helping with yard work for the elderly in your community, and paying for someone else’s meal at a restaurant or drive thru.
Recently, there was a family from my hometown who unexpectedly lost their father in a tragic accident. The accident occurred a couple of weeks before his youngest daughter’s wedding. Amidst the tragedy, countless neighbors and community members pitched in to provide meals to the family, time and talents were shared in helping with the final wedding preparations, help with yard work and so much more. The family didn’t ask for help, but those around them saw a need and took the initiative to help and ease their burden during a difficult time.
Friends and Acquaintances
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend, where he was presented with an opportunity to be a philanthropist. He was in the process of quitting his job and moving cross country to go to school. A few days prior to his upcoming move, it was brought to his attention that a coworker of his was struggling financially. The coworker had made decisions in his life that resulted in him having to pay extensive fines, legal fees and along with other financial repercussions as a result of his choices. When my friend initially heard about this situation, he learned that other coworkers were trying to gather donations to help their fellow co-worker out, ensure that he was still able to buy food and cover other necessary expenses. Initially, my friend and others were hesitant to donate any money, feeling as though the situation was the consequence and price that the man had to pay as a result of his careless actions and choices. After taking a couple of days to think about the situation, my friend ended up giving the man some money to help tide him over. The man offered to pay it back out of his next paycheck, as he knew my friend was soon going to be out of work and had extensive moving cost associated with his upcoming move. My friend, refused to be paid back as he would be gone before the next payday; he simply asked that instead of repaying him, the man pay it forward and help someone else in need. Even though he didn’t have to, and wasn’t necessarily in a position to do so, my friend saw that the other man’s needs outweighed his own; his small monetary donation was done for the betterment of someone else, something bigger than himself.
How Can I Be a Philanthropist?
Every single person, regardless of wealth, social status, occupation, race, gender or location has the ability to be a philanthropist in their own way. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, philanthropist is defined as “one who makes an active effort to promote human welfare”. That leaves the ways and possibilities in which you can be a philanthropist wide open. All it takes is for you to see or hear of a need and to do something about it.
It also means that you can be a philanthropist by just being a good person, and spreading joy and kindness to those around you. A simple act of dropping spare change into a homeless person’s cup, can make a world of difference for them. Your actions of being a philanthropist don’t have to be some big, outlandish, earth shattering act; all it needs is to come from your heart and be meaningful. Don’t limit the possibilities of being a philanthropist be capped because of the misconception that the definition of philanthropist includes wealth and money, when in fact every definition I’ve ever found doesn’t mention money as a requirement to define yourself as a philanthropist.
If you want to start living a philanthropist lifestyle but aren’t sure where to start, start small. Start by dropping spare change into charity collection cans at various stores and restaurants around your community, drop off a bag of food to your local food pantry, offer to pay for someone’s meal, bake cookies for the new neighbors that moved in down the road from you. The possibilities for how you can be a philanthropist are only limited by your imagination and your willingness to do something for someone else. Even a simple act such as giving someone a hug, can have a huge impact on their day, not to mention you generally feel better for it as well. At the grocery store, offer to return someone’s cart for them, hold the door open for someone, all these small actions that require very little effort on your part all add up to make a difference. No act of kindness is too small, no generous deed goes unnoticed.
Just imagine how much better off our world would be, if we all acted out of kindness and performed seemingly small, insignificant acts of philanthropy. There would be more smiles, more laughter, more joy. It is possible, all it takes is small actions to implement change for the better. In the infamous words of world-renowned philanthropist Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”. Start today, by doing small philanthropy type actions that you can build on over time, building a legacy of thoughtful and caring actions that have a positive impact on those around you.