Week 7

Tears do not do the body nearly enough justice. Even though this is the most powerful form of emotion expressed by humans, sometimes there is just more to it than that. Now I am not really a crier but let me just say that distributing the money to the different charities was without a doubt the greatest feeling ever. Giving has never felt as good as it did when we gave to those in desperate need. I could tell by the reactions of those receiving the donations that this money was destined for good things even before we had decided where to give it. We owe a tremendous thanks to our sponsor Mr. Ed Vernon for his unmatchable generosity and outstanding trustworthiness for a group of crazy kids in way over their heads.
I personally cannot wait until Friday though, where I will finally be able to hand over my check to the Clean the World Foundation, my favorite charity in the world. I have had an excellent relationship with the staff and volunteers at this organization for three solid years now and even though I will be off to college in just a few months, I know that there will always be a place for me to help them. It makes me truly glad to see how the efforts of teenagers, normally regarded as distracted and selfish, are making a huge difference in the world of charitable giving. The lessons I have learned here at Main Street Philanthropy are invaluable to me and I cannot express the amount of emotion I have invested into this program and into giving. I would certainly recommend this program to anyone and everyone and I am humbled to have taken part in its pilot program.

Week 6

My group and I are in a very unique situation. Although we are oriented around physical disabilities and mental illness, and we all do care quite deeply for this issue, we are divided among giving. I personally have veered away from the topic and given to a charity that has had my heart for three years and focuses on recycling and hygiene awareness. The others in my group have donated to such places like Give Kids the World and the American Heart Association. We are all in agreement that either though our group focus was different from what we chose to give to, there is still a heavy benefit for other noble charities.
One of the things that I love about my group is our willingness to be open and honest with each other. We never have much disagreement amongst each other, and we are each able to provide help or support for each other wherever needed.
Next week we are scheduled to distribute checks and I am truly ecstatic about that! I know that my charity is too far to visit on the field trip, but I am still looking forward greatly to the chance to see an impact on the faces of those we are donating to, because the face reveals an abundance of emotions and the greatest way to find out how much our donations will help charities is through the workforce directly.

Week 5 – What’s Your Favorite Charity?

The interview process is a uniquely powerful tool because it is all about bringing the truth out. In order to get the most true opinion, I chose my mother to interview for my Main Street Philanthropy project. She is after all, one of the most honest people I know, and I knew that what she said would be helpful in deciding which road to take next.
When dealt the question about what to change in the world today, my mom did not hesitate in giving me an answer. She said that she wished for younger generations to become smarter, stronger, and wise in nearly every way possible. Of course, a mother would have to give an inspirational speech in front of her youngest son who is about to go off to college, but looking back at the past and considering what has changed from her time to mine, I now realize that what she hopes for the world is one of the sweetest gifts a person could give. When my mother was younger, school, work, and social life were all very different. Firstly, education has advanced a lot in 30 years. I am currently taking AP Calculus and have taken AP Chemistry the previous year. My mom never had to see a day of either class to become the successful administrative assistant she is today. Furthermore, work is very different nowadays. Where she worked to build responsibility and savings, I work to put gas in the tank. Economically, students live in a very difficult day now, always having to scrape up every available dollar just to buy a meal or take a break at a movie. Then there is the technology. There was no Twitter in the 1970’s, and certainly texting was no where to be found. If friends wanted to hangout, it meant going down the street to their door and ringing the bell. For all these changes, it has become much harder for a student to mature as their parents did generations before. Stress has become the new norm, and hard work no longer pays off, it just keeps the vessel afloat.
All this considered, my mother could not be more proud of the time and effort I am putting into this program. The opportunity to learn more about charitable giving and managing resources is a hugely significant lesson. Most kids do not get the opportunity to see what we see as young philanthropists. For this very reason, not as many kids will have the option to see lives changed at the slightest stroke of a pen. This program works and teaches its pupils something new every week. Maybe things have gotten harder since our role models were at this age, but that does not mean we are not capable of growing up to be as inspirational as them.

Week 4 – What’s Beyond the Numbers?

An organization is many things. As we learned last week in class, it is about a million different numbers. Every single number though, was connected to some part of the organization. It takes many parts to run an organization. This week we shifted our focus to a math-free zone. Calling in board members and associates, we have begun scheduling and conducting interviews with these representatives of the various organizations and welcoming them with open arms. Our first organization to send a coordinator was Orlando’s own Habitat for Humanity. The types of questions we asked in the interview related to elements of quality, such as how the group works, what kind of staff is employed, methods for donating to the organization, community outreach, openness to volunteers, and a few others to start. What we really wanted to know was, when taking donations and fundraising out of the picture, what kind of impact is this organization making and or capable of making. Qualitative research is a powerful tool that cannot be underestimated when dealing in matters of charity. Many believe the quantitative analysis is where the most milk is drawn, but in my own humblest opinion I believe it is a healthy balance of the two that yields the most fruitful result.
It is certainly not an easy task evaluating a non-profit organization for potential investment, even though Main Street Philanthropy makes a clear and achievable path for students to give back to the charities they love. Contact is among the most important factors in building a relationship with an organization. It is hard to give to someone you hardly know, and equally to be on the receiving end. Therefore, it is important for both sides to stay active in trying to facilitate a donation and make a contribution. The next most important thing is to do your homework. Know what these organizations are about. Even if you’ve heard a thousand times the mission for Give Kids the World, do a bit more research. You never know what you may find and it could be just the edge to push you beyond the limit of comfortability and over the edge of passionate desire to help.

Week 3 – Does it all add up?

I have learned numerous things about the 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. After careful review of the organization’s IRS 990 form, I have gained a tremendous insight as to how this organization functions and on what scale it operates. The 2nd Harvest Food Bank is an enormous charity in the area and is fortunate enough to deal with millions of dollars in fundraising and donations, less than a single percent of which goes to the management of this program. Even more significant is the fact that almost ninety-eight percent of the total expenses are allocated to programs helping the organization’s cause. This is a number so high that I have not seen anything even near it before, a feat very hard to for a charitable organization to accomplish given they only operate on donations. There is no telling how worth your while it is to make some simple calculations before giving to a cause. After all, the generous act is in hopes of helping others as much as possible is it not? By learning how a program spends their money, collects their money, and shares their money, we are able to make very accurate predictions as to how much of your donation will actually go to that cause. I am confident in saying that if I were to donate to the 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida today, nearly every penny on the dollar will go to helping those who are going hungry. WIth only a microscopic portion of the money being used to run and facilitate the program, and I do mean very small, this charity is making a difference in the lives of countless each and every day. The finances of this organization are so tight and significant, that the organization would cease its service after less than a month of no donations. That just goes to show how badly this group needs it, and the numbers don’t lie…everything is going toward a terrific cause!

Week 2 – Team Spirit

Here we are in week 2 of our 8 week installment. Our mission is to assemble into teams and work together to identify a common goal. Although I missed the last session in class, as I was away on a college visit, my team was able to catch me up very speedily and provide me with more insight for our ultimate goal. Taking all our ideas and pooling them together brought about a feeling of great motivation and ambitiousness. Before I go any further though, I would like to recount the activity that put the wheels in motion for this week’s mission. Everyone in class was given a brown paper bag. In that bag, students were instructed to place a couple of items that best described them. In my own bag, I brought a pair of drumsticks and a computer mouse. The drumsticks describe something that has been a huge part of my life for the last ten years. As for the computer mouse, I felt that this was a great way to describe my creativity and it’s incalculable potential. What we took away from this activity though, was more valuable than the materials we brought in. I learned that members of my team are sentimental, creative, involved, and motivated. Each of us had something to learn about another that we did not know before and that is some very remarkable team building. From this activity, we then formed a mission statement, or purpose to organize our efforts and achieve the greatest result. Our mission statement is as follows: I envision our team providing for people with physical and mental disabilities and helping them overcome their illness. In this mission statement is more than just a purpose though. There is a heartbeat drumming up in this team to help those who cannot provide for themselves. It is a very beautiful thing happening at Harmony High School, courtesy of Main Street Philanthropy, and it is only the second week. I personally cannot wait to see the reaction to the charity who will receive a donation from this program. This week we will begin to contact potential organizations and schedule meetings to determine where the generous donation will be put to good use. I look forward to hearing the excitement and joy on the other line when candidates hear of what might be coming to their programs.

Week 1 – Make A Difference Cards

After using the Make A Difference cards during week one of our in class activity, I found out more about what kind of giver I am. I am the type of person who takes pity on those who are unable to help themselves. It’s not that no one else receives my pity per say, but, I am especially inclined to help those in situations where they do not necessarily have control. For instance, the three cards I chose for philanthropic interests were those of people with mental and physical disabilities, emergency and disaster victims, and most certainly children of need. When I think of all these groups of people combined into one united group, I feel that it is my help that could change their life. Fortunately, I have been able to involve my time and service in various organizations throughout high school to benefit these helpless individuals. My heart truly beats to put a smile on a hungry child’s face or a blanket over a cold woman’s shoulder. I am very thankful to be involved in the cause of Main Street Philanthropy cause, as it will benefit everyone involved. Aside from giving to those who give direct relief to needy victims, I am truly excited to see what the class is able to do with the generous donations and just how much of an effort a group of motivated young leaders can make towards fighting the battles of the bruised and defenseless.