Philanthropy Friday: Finding Love Through Volunteering

This following article is a guest post from my friend and owner of LinkoutureBev Feldman. This is Bev’s second guest post for Philanthropy Friday. Read her post on jewelry for a cause here.

photo credit: Bev Feldman

photo credit: Bev Feldman

Since college, finding time to volunteer and give back to the community has been very important to me. For many years after graduating, I barely made enough money to cover my living expenses, let alone donate. I knew, though, that what I couldn’t offer in financial support I could with my time.

As soon as I could, I become a Big Sister through Jewish Big Brother Big Sister. Shortly after that, a friend told me about a new organization for young adults. The premise was you could sign up for one-time volunteer opportunities with a group of other young professionals and then afterwards you go out for a meal or a drink.

Volunteer and meet new people? As someone who was still new to Boston and had not much in the way of an established social network, this sounded perfect for me.

I signed up and started volunteering at many different places, from homeless shelters to a local food bank to park cleanups, and began meeting new people along the way. I enjoyed the flexibility of trying out different volunteer opportunities, but quickly found my favorite one helping at a soup kitchen in downtown Boston. I loved being able to cook and serve a hot and (hopefully) delicious meal to the patrons of the soup kitchen, and making friends with my fellow volunteers while doing it was an added bonus. I volunteered at that particular event so much I was soon asked to become an event leader by the founder of the volunteer organization.

Being a volunteer also gave me access to some pretty amazing opportunities, like the time I volunteered at a black tie Oscar party that was raising money for breast cancer research. Others were not quite as entertaining. There was the time I helped at another cancer-related nonprofit stuffing envelopes for a mailing. The work might have been less interesting, but my fellow volunteers and I knew we were helping a great cause. We made jokes and laughed during our time there and the time flew by, and afterwards we treated ourselves to a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant.

There were many things I had hoped to gain from volunteering. I volunteered as a way to give back, having grown up so fortunate myself. I volunteered as a way to make connections, both with my fellow volunteers and the people who I was hopefully helping. I volunteered to learn: about the world, my community and even new skills.

What I had not expected to gain from volunteering was to find love. You see, on that fateful day stuffing envelopes, I met a guy. We didn’t talk much that afternoon; in fact, the only thing we may have said to each other was to pass a stack of papers. But as he was quickly becoming more involved in the organization also and I was already in a leadership role, soon after that event he reached out to me to see about getting together to learn more about my involvement. We already knew that we had volunteering as a common interest, and we quickly learned that we had so much more, from an appreciation to the same quirky music to striped sweaters from H&M (which we were coincidentally wearing the first time we hung out).

The first beer together grew into communicating regularly online and hanging out in person, to dating to eventually moving in together. It has been nine years since that fateful day. We are now married and have a beautiful daughter together.

Bev and her beautiful family. (photo credit: Bev Feldman)

Bev and her beautiful family. (photo credit: Bev Feldman)

I know that we live in a busy world with overscheduled lives, but I encourage you to find the time to volunteer. Maybe even this Valentine’s Day instead of going on a traditional date, you can try a volunteer date with your partner or a group of friends. I can promise that whatever your intentions are for doing it, you will get so much more out of it than you ever expect. And hey, maybe you’ll even find love while volunteering.

bfeldman-headshotBev Feldman is a jewelry artist and blogger in the Boston area. She has a passion for travel, creativity, all things handmade, and giving back to her community, all of which she hope to instill in her daughter. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday (rewind): Fostering Shelter Dogs

The following article is a guest post from my good friend and granola extraordinaire, Ilene Evans. It was originally published on May 3, 2013. Her recent post about helping your neighbor, even if it’s not the easy thing, inspired me to share her past words today. 

We stood on the grass as the van made its way over the gravel driveway. As it came to a stop, E. emerged with a brown cocker spaniel in her arms.

“This one’s yours!” she said as she handed the dog to me. “Isn’t he a beauty?”

Could Brock be any cuter?

Could Brock be any cuter?

The kids gathered around me as we said hello to our first foster dog Brock.

That was a year ago.

We’ve fostered fourteen dogs since.

For those of you unfamiliar with the role of dog foster parents, we are the bridge between the shelter and the permanent home for a dog, most of them narrowly escaping being euthanized at high kill facilities. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“ASPCA”), approximately 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in shelters annually. This number translates to 60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats entering shelters are “put down,” and never have the chance to find a home or return to the home they strayed from.

Animal rescue organizations around the country work with extensive networks of shelter workers, rescue drivers and rescue pilots to release dogs from shelters and transport them to families who are willing to care for them until they find permanent homes.

In my house, rescuing dogs is a family affair. Not only are my three children involved with the care of our foster dogs, they are also acutely aware that every time we take a dog, we are saving a life. Is it difficult to say goodbye to the dogs when they find their permanent homes? Absolutely. It’s not unusual for there to be tears on adoption day. We love these dogs. As a foster family, that’s part of our job.

kidswithpups

I’ve had many people ask me questions such as these.

“Won’t the kids be sad when the dog is adopted?”

Of course the kids will be sad.

Some people have gone as far as to say this:

“How can you let your kids get attached to these dogs only to have them leave you?”

When we love something, we tend to want it to stay around forever, but nothing is forever. That’s not how life works. We will all have many goodbyes in our lifetime, and the farewell to our foster dogs is bittersweet. It’s that good kind of hurt, of knowing that our dog is moving on to an owner who will love that dog the way we did, creating room in our home to save yet another life.

With every goodbye, comes another hello.

With every goodbye, we give another shelter dog a second chance.

For more information on becoming a foster parent to shelter dogs, contact your local ASPCA

ileneevans

 

Ilene Evans is a single mom, entrepreneur and owner of Hippie Chick Granola Co, a small batch granola co. that serves up delicious, fun, surprising flavors.

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. Read past stories here.

Philanthropy Friday: Global Impact Summit

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer.

GIS-logo1

The Global Impact Summit, an online event happening November 10 – 28 on your computer (if you so choose), includes 30 thought leaders in 15 Inspiring days. It is “all about Purpose, Strategy & Action and how you can create a profound difference in the world with your business through the IMPACT of giving.”

When I received an email from my friend Paul Dunn of B1G1, I had to share this event. Not only does it sound incredibly insightful for entrepreneurs and change makers, the Global Impact Summit is free with a donation of as little as $5. True to the B1G1 giving model, you can select a giving project that you’d like to support when you attend the summit. As you can see in the screenshot below, I chose to give a child access to life-saving water for 5 years. With just $10!

globalimpactsummitFrom the Global Impact Summit website:

We believe that businesses have the power to change our world.

All of the speakers at this Summit are here to empower you and the businesses you’re a part of to create greater results and at the same time give back to create the real change we want to see.

So we ask you to implement the learning into your daily business practice so that you inspire others to create a positive impact too.

The line up of speakers sounds pretty great too. You can find each of the leaders featured on the the B1G1 Facebook page.

Find out more about the summit, take a look at the schedule, and register.

Will you join me at the Global Impact Summit?

Philanthropy Friday (rewind): Celebrating 100 School Days with Kindness

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

The 100th day of school is right around the corner (assuming the polar vortex doesn’t mess with your school schedule too much). While this post from 2012 is particularly popular right now, I wanted to share a Philanthropy Friday post from last year about how my son’s elementary school is celebrating with 400 acts of kindness. I just got the notice that they are doing the same thing this year. This year, G gets to donate to the organization where we’ve been volunteering.

The school does a lot to get the kids involved with giving back and helping others. I share this post with the hope that it will inspire others to initiate similar projects in their schools. You can never start incorporating philanthropy into a child’s life too early.

The following post was originally published on FEBRUARY 1, 2013.

100stickers

G’s 100 stickers project from kindergarten

If you have children in school, you are probably aware of the celebrations and projects that pop up around this time of year to commemorate the 100th day of school.

I still don’t quite get why the 100th day is such a big deal, but it seems like most elementary schools around the country do something. I know this from my Facebook newsfeed and the fact that my 100 School Days Project Ideas post from last year is the most popular on the blog right now.

In the past, G has had to collect 100 items and put them on a poster board and in a bag. This year, there’s a philanthropic twist to his 100th day of school, because they are celebrating the 100th day of school with 400 acts of kindness.

This year, G’s school is challenging its 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to come up with at least 100 donations for a specific local nonprofit. G and his fellow second graders were assigned the Coastal Humane Society, where we adopted Kona 11 years ago. The third graders are collecting items for the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program. The fourth graders have Tedford Housing, and the fifth graders are taking care of the Brunswick Teen Center.

The school sent home a flyer describing their goal of collecting 100 items from each class for the designated nonprofits.They have students working on charts to keep track of their donations and show how close they are to their goal. The flyer also listed the items each nonprofit was most in need of to make shopping easy.

G had fun picking out dog toys and treats to bring in to school. In fact, he bugged us from the moment he brought the flyer home about making the trip to the pet store. He was the same way when the school was rallying together to collect food items during the holiday season.

Considering some of the kids at school might benefit directly from these donations, I think it’s a wonderful twist on the usual 100 school days projects. It gets kids giving early and excited to do so.

Is your child participating in a 100 schools days project? Is there a way to incorporate giving into it?

Philanthropy Friday: Top 10 Most Engaging Philanthropy Posts of 2013

Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please contact Jennifer. You can view past posts from the series here.

Since this is the last Philanthropy Friday of the year, I thought it would be fun to reflect on the top philanthropy-related posts on this blog in 2013. When I searched for the posts with the most comments, it wasn’t surprising that some of my good friends and most favorite nonprofits came up. If you missed a few of these, I hope you will go back and read. They are some of my favorite posts as well!

top philanthropy posts

Following are the top 10 most engaging philanthropy posts on anotherjennifer.com in 2013 (with #1 being the most engaging of all):

  1. Flush for Good: Celebrating World Toilet Day with Awareness and a Giveaway! Clean water for drinking and bathing is a very limited resource that we need to protect. I partnered with American Standard to celebrate World Toilet Day and gave away a $200 Lowe’s giftcard while American Standard donated 20 sanitary toilet pans to a community in need via BRAC USA and WaterAid.
  2. Saying Goodbye Saying goodbye to my first dog, Kona, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. My October Giving Pledge donation was to the shelter from which we adopted him.
  3. Philanthropy Friday: Fresh Air: Open Your Heart and Your Home As my guest blogger for the day, Michelle from A Dish of Daily Life noted, “In the end, Fresh Air is so much more than a summer experience. If our Fresh Air child is ‘lucky’ for having this opportunity, then we are ‘lucky’ too.”
  4. Philanthropy Friday: Hello…Goodbye: Fostering Shelter Dogs Ilene from The Fierce Diva Guide to Life gives back through fostering dogs. “We are the bridge between the shelter and the permanent home for a dog, most of them narrowly escaping being euthanized at high kill facilities.”
  5. Philanthropy Friday: Harnessing the Power of Social Good Moms Founded by the amazing Jennifer James, Mom Bloggers for Social Good and the Global Team of 200 is an all volunteer effort, and its voices are being heard all around the world. (And I’m proud to be a member of both.)
  6. Wordless Wednesday: A Child’s Perspective Sometimes a photo is all you need to tell the story. This one is from View Finder, an organization created to help disadvantaged children discover self-expression, self-confidence and self-worth through photography. (You can read my post about View Finder on pplkind.com.)
  7. Philanthropy Friday: World Moms Blog World Moms Blog is a collaborative website that writes from over 20 countries on 6 continents about motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Plus Jen Burden is pretty awesome.
  8. Philanthropy Friday: Empowered By You Empowered By You is a new luxury lingerie brand created by the Seven Bar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to empower women throughout the globe via microfinance. This is also the first Philanthropy Friday post that made me blush.
  9. The Power of Dance I’d hate to live in a world where music, dance, art and creativity isn’t a regular part of my life. For my Giving Pledge in June, I tried to give a little back to this community.
  10. Philanthropy Friday: Feeding Our Kids 7 Day a Week Feeding America’s BackPack Program helps children get nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to keep them fed on the weekends. G and I have a great time volunteering for our local backpack program.

As a bonus, I wanted to share two of my best pieces from 2013 not on this website:

Thanks for being along for the ride in 2013!

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