Philanthropy Friday: A Polar Dip for Morgan

This following article is a guest post from a friend and owner of Bad Dog Deli, Ben Grant.mccppolarddipbenIn 1990, a cute little blond girl named Morgan was born.

My name is Ben, and that cute little blond girl is my pain in the ass little sister. As children, we played, sometimes too rough. I can remember a time when Morgan needed stitches because I had accidentally struck her with a stick. We were 5 and 9. There were a number of instances over an 8 year stretch that we fought, hugged, snuggled and acted as what we were, a younger sister and older brother.

In 1997 things changed quickly for our duo, after a number of trips to the doctor and failed diagnoses, we were disheartened to discover Morgan had a tumor growing at the base of her brain stem. Everything changed in our household. I was 10 or 11 and continued with life as usual: school, sports, friends and sleepovers. Morgan was taken out of school for surgeries and treatments, her friends asking where she had gone. The fighting between us changed, the level of energy changed, the times we would sit and play Monopoly together, all changed.

After a battle with cancer and remission, we lost Morgan in January of 1998. She had just turned 8 years old. After a number of years, jobs, relationships, and living arrangements, I found myself back in the state of Maine closer to my friends and family. It was then that I was offered to participate in a crazy event called the Maine Children’s Cancer Program Polar Dip.

The Polar Dip is held each year in February at Sebago Lake. Teams of participants plunge into the icy waters all in support of Maine Children’s Cancer Program. Funds are raised months leading up to the event and go directly to the program, a community that had helped my family years before. Not only does this event support a program that has directly impacted my and my family’s life, the timing is very close to Morgan’s birthday and anniversary of passing. Without hesitation, as a way to give back to such an important cause, my brother Joe and I signed up to plunge!

Since our initial jump in 2011, Joe and I have raised almost $18k with the help of a few special friends willing to jump with us. This year the event takes place on February 14th and we welcome all those willing to participate! If you want to jump, join our team. If you want to help, make a donation. If you’d like to support, come on down to the ice! There is so much that people can do to aid the Maine Children’s Cancer Program and their research.

MCCP was there for my family when we needed it most, I hope that through this event, I can give back to them and aid in their support of families who need it today.

You can visit Ben’s Polar Dip fundraising page HERE. (I donated. Will you join me?)

bengrantBenjamin Grant is a Pownal, Maine native and the owner of Bad Dog Deli in Scarborough, where he puts his Johnson and Wales degree to use each day. He prides himself in running a friendly, down-to-earth and delicious eatery. When not at the Deli, Ben spends time with his wife Katie, son Abel and 3 beagles, Johnnie, Molly and Newcastle in their Lisbon Falls home.

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.

Bill and Melinda Gates: Debunking Myths Around Global Poverty

I’ve got a little quiz for you today. Answer true or false to the following statements:

  1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor.
  2. Foreign aid is a big waste.
  3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation.

If you answered false to all three, you are correct! If you answered true, don’t worry. You are not alone. But after reading this post, I hope you will change any misconceptions you might have about helping those in poverty around the globe.

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Bill and Melinda Gates just released their annual letter and they are debunking the three myths mentioned above because misconceptions such as these often give people an excuse not to act.

From the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

In fact, life is better for more people around the world than it has ever been. People are living longer, healthier lives and poverty rates have been cut in half in the last 25 years. Child mortality is plunging. Many nations that were aid recipients are now self-sufficient. Bill and Melinda want to tackle these myths because too often they give people a reason not to act.

So let’s take a loot at these myths.

Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. In fact, many of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. Some of the so-called developing nations have already developed and many more are on their way. Progress in health and income and foreign aid has helped a lot. The percentage of “very poor people” has actually dropped by more than half since 1990. Bill Gates explains in this short video. He also predicts there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035.

Foreign aid is a big waste. I hear a lot of people complaining about the amount of money the United States gives to other countries in foreign aid. In fact, less than 1% of the American budget is allotted for foreign aid, which is about $30 for every American. Foreign aid actually helps countries find the kind of economic and health progress explained in #1. This progress, of course, help countries to become less dependent on aid. Bill Nye the Science Guy explains more in this short video.

Saving lives leads to overpopulation. People have worried about overpopulation for centuries. If we save everyone, then how will we have enough food and resources to go around? It has actually been found that the countries with the most deaths are also the fastest-growing populations. This happens when girls are married off young, when couples have several children because they know some will inevitably die, and when there is lack of education around or access to contraception. Ending overpopulation actually starts with saving the poorest children, as Professor Hans Rosling explains in this short video.

I encourage you to take some time and read through the letter from Bill and Melinda Gates. While I pulled out some of the highlights, there is much more information included in the letter, and it may will open your eyes to several global issues. It’s a great read.

You can help #stopthemyth

I wrote this post as part of the Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of Mom Bloggers for Social Good members who focus on maternal health, children, hunger, and women and girls. 

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Inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates’ annual letter, I decided to donate to Save the Children this month, specifically to their Syrian Children’s Relief Fund. Save the Children is a partner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a partner of mine as well. My donation will provide a set of winter clothes to protect a child from the cold. You can read more about their work here.

Are you willing to take the giving pledge and donate every month to a nonprofit? Grab the badge below and tell the world.

another jennifer giving pledge

Philanthropy Friday: Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month

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.

Today is a travel day for Philanthropy Friday. I’m sending you over to GOOD.

Are you a member of GOOD yet? You should be. It’s a community for people who give a damn.

I’m reflecting on the six lessons I learned by donating every month through my Giving Pledge. Here’s a preview:

In February of 2012, I started my very own Giving Pledge. I was frustrated by the lack of donations to worthy nonprofits on my part at the end of 2011.

The problem was that my husband and I didn’t make giving a priority throughout the year. Once the “giving season” and the last chance to get those tax-deductible donations in arrived, we simply couldn’t afford to donate a lot of money all at once. Not many people can, I suspect.

I noted that waiting until the end of the year to donate money to a good cause is a terrible giving strategy.

I should know better, considering I’ve worked in nonprofit development and fundraising in some capacity for nearly 10 years. There’s a need for money year round, not just in December.

Since I declared my Giving Pledge –  to donate to at least one nonprofit each month – I’ve blogged about whom I’ve donated to and why. My goal was for my husband and I to give to more organizations and feel better about our philanthropic efforts at the end of the year.

After two full years of my Giving Pledge, I can safely say “mission accomplished.” Compared to my 2011, my charitable contributions when up significantly in 2012 and 2013. Looking back at my donations in these two years, I learned a few things about myself and my giving habits.

Read the full article Six Lessons I Learned While Pledging to Donate Every Month on GOOD and leave a comment if you have a moment.

I hope it will inspire you to consider your own giving pledge. It’s easier than you think. I promise.

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