My passion for volunteering started when I was elected the Philanthropy Chairwoman in my sorority, Alpha Sigma Tau. I was responsible for acquiring volunteer hours for all my sorority sisters. I was also responsible for organizing and conducting a blood drive for the college students and the surrounding community. I orchestrated coin-drops at local supermarkets, bake sales on campus, participated in breast cancer walks, and partnered with the local soup kitchen, in addition to other various projects.
Volunteering at the soup kitchen was a very humbling experience. The hardest part was seeing children stand in line to await their Sunday dinner. I remember going back to my dorm, plopping myself on my bed, and crying to my mom on the phone. Although I felt like I made a difference, my heart was broken and my mind was unsettled. Volunteering at the soup kitchen was not for me. I couldn’t handle my emotions, and it left me feeling terrible about society and the struggles people must endure to put food on the table. After I completed graduate school and began my career, I missed volunteering and giving back from the goodness of my heart. I wanted to do something more, something different and challenging. Ultimately, it had to make me feel good. I wanted to volunteer with an organization that kept me coming back for more…
I researched an array of different possibilities, mentioning to my husband that we should volunteer for an organization. He agreed, thinking it would be a good way to spend time with one another and to give back to our community.
After we rescued Bailey, my wheels started turning.
“Hey Jay, we are going to foster puppies.” I said as I sipped my fourth glass of wine. He thought I was crazy, and probably thought the wine was talking, but I was serious, so we embarked on the fostering roller coaster ride together.
I picked up our first foster puppy in April 2016 and have since become a very active volunteer. I organize fundraising events and donation drives, and assist with adoptions and veterinary visits. Ten of my foster dogs have been adopted to forever homes. I am hoping my eleventh foster dog, Heath, the one that played dead, is adopted before the end of January.
Everyone has the capability to make a difference. I challenge you to become a philanthropist in 2017. Here are some tips for getting started:
Money vs. Time
First decide whether you want to donate money or volunteer your time. If you want to donate money, pick one or two charities you feel strongly about, and research where the money is being spent. If you choose time, research their and your expectations, and make sure you can uphold your commitment. Fostering dogs is a combination of time and money. Time is paramount when training a foster dog to be a lovable, adoptable, well-behaved canine. The rescue supplies the basics, but we purchase additional items. All the items we purchase for our foster dog are tax deductible.
What’s Important to You?
I chose fostering because I feel strongly about rescuing dogs opposed to breeding. I chose to help with fundraising and donation drives because non-profit organizations work hard to be sustainable, and little gestures make a great impact. I like seeing results, and with fostering and helping with the rescue, I constantly see progress, which makes me feel like I am valued and my time is being utilized effectively.
Get your family, friends, and coworkers involved. Bring awareness to the organization in which you are helping, and others may join the fun. Many charities don’t have funds for advertising, so word of mouth and posting on social media can really help an organization get noticed.
My closing sentiment is a quotation by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
In 2017, pick something that is meaningful to you, and donate monetarily, your time, or both. You could also attend fundraising events for causes you support; that would be of minimal cost and time.
If we all chose to be productive, and gave a little of ourselves to the greater good, the world would be a much happier, healthier place.