Today is officially become Giving Tuesday, the day we are encouraged to give back after spending Black Friday and Cyber Monday most likely shopping for ourselves or those close to us.
Instead of giving you a collage of products that give back to deserving charities, I am going to make this post more personal. According to an article in the New York Times today, 45% of Americans do not donate to a cause and 75% do not volunteer. But not only is doing good for others beneficial to the receivers, it has equally beneficial results for the giver. I can attest. For the past couple of years I have spent a couple of hours, twice weekly, tutoring athlete high school students at Mount Vernon High School to help them navigate getting into college. It is one of the aspects of my life in the burbs I am sad to give up. Helping first generation college applicants and others get through their SATs, realize they had something to say and share in their college essay and watch them get into college, whether it was a two-year technical school or four years at state or private college, was rewarding on a very deep level. It was also disheartening to realize the every advantage my daughters both had in navigating this difficult time, and how these kids deserve the same leg up (or more). Many kids grew up in difficult situations–some hard to imagine when you learned of them, but they are resilient and have the same hopes and dreams and drive as every other child. And they counted on me and the other volunteers to be there and help them find their way.
Once I am settled in my new home, I plan to find some other way to volunteer in the city. And if you haven’t thought about volunteering I highly recommend it. I am not negating the necessity for donating money, without it, programs like the one I worked for wouldn’t exist. But putting in real time and effort on your part brings great reward. Of course, everyone always feels busy and time is precious, but I learned the best way to make it a success is to make the time. Commit to your volunteer work, as you would a scheduled job meeting. It wasn’t until I stopped being wishy-washy, as in ‘I will try to make next Tuesday’, and started rescheduling other events around my tutoring that it really worked. I am not looking for a pat on the back, the women who run the program and do it as a full-time job deserve that. It is more that I want to share with you what a profound impact connecting and helping others has had on me. And if someone has any NYC recommendations, please share!