At Treehouse I ran the Coaching-to-College program with a couple of co-workers. It was a mentoring program for high-school aged foster youth who had post-secondary aspirations. At DiscNW I was the Youth Coordinator and ran ultimate frisbee leagues/programs for youth in the Seattle area.
I have also been volunteering at Burton’s Chill Foundation for the past 5 or 6 winters – helping to teach/mentor kids from under-resourced backgrounds via snowboarding. I also started volunteer coaching for ultimate about 7 years ago – first at Edmonds-Woodway HS then Aki Kurose MS and now at Franklin HS. Along with coaching I’ve served on DiscNW’s Youth Advisory Committee for the past 3 or so years.
For the past year and a half I’ve been the Recruitment Director at City Year Seattle/King County. City Year is a national AmeriCorps funded program that places 17-24 year olds in schools that need the most help in urban centers in order to help reverse the drop-out rate crisis. They (the corps members) serve as tutors, mentors and role-models.
Most recently I joined the board of 826 Seattle. This organization started off in the SF Bay area as 826 Valencia and was the brainchild of Dave Eggers (the author). 826 is all about helping young people from under-resourced backgrounds in the field of writing. The idea is that the ability to write well opens many doors for people (college applications, school essays, letters to the editor, etc). All the national tutoring centers have a store attached to it that sells kitschy, themed items. In SF it’s a Pirate store. In Brooklyn it’s a SuperHero store and in Seattle it’s the Greenwood Space Travel and Supply Company.
Check out this great TED talk by Dave Eggers:
So why did I just bore you with my non-profit involvement history? It’s definitely not to brag or show off although I am proud of the work I’ve done and am doing in helping even the playing field for kids withe less opportunities.
No, it’s because I want to inspire the other 20 to 40-somethings out there. (I was gonna write 2o to 30-somethings but since I’ll be 40 in 2 years – why not raise the age? It’s my blog!) I want my peers to take a bigger share of social responsibility. I want my friends to know that there are many different ways to give back and make a positive change.
There are a ton of non-profits in Seattle and most of them get their funding from a mix of the following:
A. Gov’t funding (state, federal, local)
B. Foundations and grants
C. Corporate sponsorships
D. Wealthy individuals and families
The idea here is that only people or organizations with millions of dollars can fund non-profits. That is simply not the case. Many non-profits rely heavily on average wage-earners to keep the lights on, to create innovative programs, to build operational overhead, and to spread their message.
So this is my plea to my fellow friends who are scientists, lawyers, students, nurses, computer programmers, artists, small business owners, chefs, physical therapists, doctors, SEO experts, musicians, comedians, nannies, and plumbers. No matter what happens with the federal and local budget, no matter how much or how little funding social service programs receive – there will still be need. I know times are tough and budgets are tight but I also know many of my friends go out to eat a ton, spend a lot of their hard-income (and justifiably so) on leisurely activities like ski trips, beach trips and new clothes/toys/vehicles.
All I’m asking is think about doing something for a non-profit agency out there. Donate some clothes. Throw down $150 at a benefit lunch or dinner, get your business to sponsor an event, volunteer your precious free time. There are communities, kids, schools, hospitals, and organizations in need of your support and friendship.
If you need some suggestions about organizations that tie into your passions let me know how I can help.
Peace and gratitude,