“I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass.” - Maya Angelou
Do things that matter...
What matters most to me is doing something you that you love, that you believe in. Be it leaving a safe career to start your own business (or family), spending Saturday mornings volunteering at a soup kitchen, or kayaking during a thunderstorm.
These posts are for people that want to live a life that will "make a good story."
“It’s made me cry seeing these big men who are ecstatic just to own a dishtowel. It gives them dignity. It’s amazing how a home can do so much.”
There was once a homeless man. One day, he found out he had cancer. He needed chemotherapy, but couldn’t get it because he didn’t have an address.
But SAVE INC. gave him a house key, a key that got him into remission. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what not having a home really meant. I assumed it just meant not having a place to hang your hat.
How and When to Thank Volunteers During Stressful Times
When have you most needed to hear someone say thank you? For me, it’s when I’ve been so crunched, overwhelmed and stressed that I couldn’t remember why I was bothering to put one foot in front of the other.
3 Tips for saying thank you in the midst of chaos.
“They just want someone to listen, love them and be there for them. It’s something most of them have never had.”
“She softly said, ‘I now have no home again.’ Those six little words, ‘I now have no home again,’ will forever echo in my mind.”
Those are the words of Mother’s Refuge executive director Robert Zornes, describing his memory of the fire that destroyed their community home the night of Oct. 8, 2012.
Mother’s Refuge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving young, single pregnant women a loving and supportive home. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mandy Taylor, the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator, and what struck me most about her description of their organization is how everyone becomes “family.”
How Brilliant People Plan: Five Efficiency Secrets
“Walk into a room full of chaos, and ask the question: if nothing else gets done today, what has to happen?”
I have never been a volunteer manager, but I love to talk shop with them because we understand one another’s worlds.
Their job, like mine as a Project Manager, is to be the ultimate mom. Part liaison, part strategy, more than a little administration and lots of list making. You are almost always on call, constantly interrupted and usually spinning a dozen plates at one time. At best, these roles are challenging and exciting. At worst, they are harried and harrowing.
Here's 5 coping secrets from the experts: the Project Manager, Writer, Systems Geek, Coffee Shop Manager, and the Mom.
People are reinventing how they volunteer, nonprofits need to follow suit.
"I’m so disappointed with the way the world has become,” my grandfather told me. “I don’t know what happened to the values of my generation.”
Do people even care or help anymore? I’ve asked myself this several times since that talk and a more jaded part of me agrees with him. Nowadays, I think a young boy would probably be less inclined to help an old lady cross a street than when my grandpa was young.
Why has helping others changed? Or should the question be — how has helping others changed?
Give what you can with joy. When you get bitter, it’s time to stop.
She was telling me how much she loved her cause, how needed it was, how much she believed in it and above all, how utterly and totally exhausted she was.
As she admitted her exhaustion, her eyes filled with tears of frustration and shame. I nodded my head in the solidarity of understanding.
The woman in question ran a local nonprofit. I met her at One Million Cups KC a couple of months back. To my embarrassment, I don’t remember her name or the organization, but I remember our conversation vividly. It was so familiar.
A man terrified of spiders is entertaining enough, but the fact that said man was a 6-foot-5-inch blonde giant only amplified the hilarity. Ryan Childress and I were 15 at the time, had known each other for years and were practically family, which became official two years later when his sister married my brother. Ironically, we sealed our fate as a family when I caught the bouquet and he caught the garter.
As Ryan bounded to the other side of the kitchen, terrified of the tiny insect, I doubled over laughing. It was so typical of the goofy and often whiny Ryan. Preppy, middle class, white kid who refused to wear anything but American Eagle clothes.
If you had told me then that eight years later that same gentle giant would be spending his days driving around on tuk-tuks, working to rescue young men from the Cambodia sex slave trade while eating bugs as a daily snack, I would’ve said you were crazy.
My actions may not influence the whole world, but I have the power to affect someone, maybe even a few someones.
“You lie down. You sing. You dance. You give me chocolate cake. Now sleep!”
I watch as my mother subjects herself to the every whim of the four-year-old in front of her. The tiny waif girl stands with a hand on each miniscule hip, pretending to scowl authoritatively at my lovely mother, who meanwhile is grinning ear-to-ear at this tiny dictator.
I once asked her why. Why do kids love it so much?
She said the key to understanding children is acknowledging that they feel irrevocably small or helpless. It’s quite often a constant emotion. So, giving them any grain of power will bring untold delight.
It communicates to them that what they do matters.
My volunteering has almost always been comprised of fairly mundane tasks: data entry, cleaning, watching children, etc. Yet some experiences have felt inexplicably more meaningful than others. Some days I went home wondering why I bothered while others I found myself smiling on the drive home, feeling like I had been part of something amazing.
Why? The tasks didn’t necessarily change, why did my sense of experience? These two stepswill help any nonprofit or business answer that confounding question.
The best token of gratitude I've ever received was a "thank you pineapple." Her name was Wilma.
Most of us say thank you for common courtesies like holding the elevator and passing the salt. We send thank you cards afters after birthdays. Typically they're perfunctory and predictable. But a thank you can mean much more.
Collective sigh across the room. I've heard the exasperation time and time again as volunteer coordinators sigh and even throw up their hands when the question of how to manage the (M) generation (18 to 34-years-old) comes up.
We often get a bad rap from older generations. The more-biased ones scoff that we are a tech-obsessed, scarf wearing, coffee snob group that has lost all sense of character and meaning.
Yet ironically, Millennials contain an intense desire for meaning and dream of being apart of something they believe in.
“You’re doing this really hard thing. You’re up on this pedestal; I can’t interact with you, so I’m not even going to try.”
Pedestals may be fancy, but they’re incredibly lonely. Pedestals make the people giving care believe that they have to live up to this “Hero” status. So they don’t share their needs; which in turn cuts them off from support and resources.
Lastly, pedestals isolate the rest of us as well. Williams said the “hero myth” makes the rest us who want to help in smaller ways, believe that we have nothing to offer.
“Who can be the hero? The good looking, really well thought of individual, who is killing themselves to do it.”
Here's 3 steps to getting people off pedestals and into supportive community.
What happens when raising money doesn't fix the problem?
That was Tate Williams's (U.S. Field Director of Global Orphan Project) question. What he believed would be a relatively simple aid project, quickly became much murkier when he realized 3rd problems couldn't be fixed with cash.
"We lived 'Toxic Charity' we lived 'When Helping Hurts.' We did it the wrong way first. Everyone must come to the place of realizing that we are not the savior, money is not the fix, and the community itself has to be the ones to care for themselves.”
One foggy morning while the sun had hardly risen, I was taking my 10 and complaining to one of my favorite regulars Don. Don was a prestigious professor at a nearby college and was used to kids whining, so he took mine in patient stride.
I told him that I believed what I was doing was demeaning and pointless. That it was just coffee, and what was the point of it all? It really didn’t make any kind of real difference, it just didn’t matter. He let me have my moan, while thoughtfully considering his cigarette. Finally, he met my eye.
“Anna,” he said slowly, “everyday you make people happy. You make them feel seen, and valued. That is no small thing.”