Main Street Final Blog

After completing the first 9 weeks I had come to terms with the fact that the next week would be a bittersweet ending to the course. My most memorable experience through Main Street was the raising of money. Though this seems like a simple task, I ultimately found out, it is not. Raising money through bake sales and simply asking for donations can be a difficult are arduous process. Despite this, it is very rewarding in the end knowing the money you raise will be used towards a good cause. Through Main Street I learned plenty of valuable and important life lessons. The most important one of these is to have faith in others. I learned this through working with teammates and hoping they would try to contribute as much as I did to our fund raising efforts. My group members certainly did not fall short and were very helpful in raising money and awareness for Main Street and our goal as a team. If I were to give advice to nonprofits I would first tell them to keep an open mind about who comes to them. This especially applies to teenagers coming to them offering a possible opportunity. Other students and other schools need to realize that enrolling in Main Street should not be done solely to help college resumés, though that is a helpful bonus. Enrolling in Main Street and completing the course is a very difficult task that demands heavy amounts of attention and should only be done if one is passionate about learning about philanthropy and helping others. To any possible donors to a Main Street Class, I would advise them to learn about what Main Street does and realize that it is a very valuable experience for all those involved. And if I had the choice between being given $25 dollars to keep or $250 to give away, I would definitely give away the $250, I honestly am in a fortunate situation where I can go without $25 dollars. There are people however who do not have nearly enough and I am hoping I would be able to help with the money.

Main Street Philanthropy Week 10

I will not forget my experience with Main Street Philanthropy, and while the things I will remember most are numerous, the one thing I will not forget is going house to house asking for donations. It not only was my first time doing something like that, I had a chance to meet my neighbors and discover their kindness. Before that, to me they were simply people who existed behind closed doors. Actually going up to their doorstep and telling them about this class gave me a sense of pride because they were genuinely interested in what we were doing. They gave up some of their own time to stand there on their front stoop on a day that was very cold. That was the day they became real to me, instead of shadows that rippled curtains in the window from time to time. The most valuable lesson I learned in Main Street Philanthropy was that no matter what age one is, he can make a difference. I went into this class very skeptical. I knew we were going to raise money and give it to someone somewhere, but I did not know where that money was going come from or how we were going to get it. As the weeks went by, my confidence grew and so did my group’s progress. We started out a bit slowly, but soon after one decision and action led to others, faster and faster, and we ended up with a great sum of money in the end to donate. After this experience I would most definitely give my time and money in the future because I have seen what I can do and how far I can go with it. The reason I would have been more hesitant in the beginning was I did not know where it would lead me, and I was too afraid to try and see. This class led me to testing my limits and I found that they were farther than I thought. To nonprofit organizations looking for support from philanthropists, I would tell them to act like they really want it. They have to be able to tell me exactly what they do and why they do it. I need to know if they are sincere in what they do or simply want more help in doing just another thing for random people who need help. They will not earn the support, well, my support, anyway, of others if they seem too laid back about their cause. Genuineness is something I personally look for in the people who lead an organization. I want to see in their eyes that they truly believe and are truly devoted to their cause because just trying to make me feel sorry for them is not going to cut it. It is not enough for someone to plead that he needs help because the organization is short a lot of people, or it needs more money to continue doing the wonderful things it is doing right now to help those in need. I group organizations into two groups: one that is concerned about funding the organization and one that is devoted to the cause. Because those that are devoted to their cause will not constantly worry about how much money they have or what materials they need because it is all about giving to them. To other schools considering this program, I would say that it is worth it. It involves a lot of hard work and dedication, but it pays off in the end. It really is a rewarding experience because one does not come across a class like this often. It is class where the teacher guides here and there, but the students lead. It is up to them where they want to take it and how far they want to go. Donors who are considering funding a class like this one would really be impressed with how much is taught in ten weeks. They should invest in this class because it provides a unique, hands-on experience for kids to learn how to give back to the community. And when presented with a choice to be given $25 to keep or be given $250 to give away, after taking this class, the decision, as it was for me, is instantaneous. I would choose to be given $250 to give away in a heartbeat. But honestly, if I chose the $25 instead, I would probably end up giving that away anyway. This choice one has to make represents the whole idea of giving: if you take the $25, you can do a lot with it, but if you choose to take the $250 and give it away, you can do so much more. This class does not only teach kids how to donate wisely and be more comfortable reaching out to charities, but it also teaches children to be real philanthropists, and not the kind that gives huge sums of money to those in need, but the kind that cares about others. Nothing in the definition of philanthropy mentions anything about money, as I learned in the first week of class. We are here to give, to encourage others to give, and to replace selfishness with selflessness.

Journal 6: The End

I cannot believe it is already over. It feels as if I was just walking into the Key Club room for the first session of Main Street Philanthropy where I met Mr. Levey and received my sacred course book. This journal will act as a reflection on all my work and progress through this course as well as a look to the future. The thing I will remember most about Main Street Philanthropy will be the people. The reason I love activities like this is because it is a place to meet similar minded service lovers. Talking with others who had the same passions and visions as me was invigorating. Knowing that my concerns were not singular was comforting. A valuable lesson I learned during these weeks was how to handle my money when giving to charities. For me philanthropy has always meant doing service and giving time to a cause. Now that I earn my own funds through jobs, I want to be able to donate smartly, making sure that the money I give is being used wisely and towards the actual cause of the organization. I know that the experience I had with this course only got me more enthusiastic about donating my time and money towards causes I am concerned about. If I was to give advice to a nonprofit organization looking to receive support from a philanthropist I would say a key factor is solid communication. If an organization returns calls and emails, and has dedicated members who are willing to explain and answer questions about their cause, people are more likely to volunteer and donate. To others who are considering the Main Street Philanthropy Course– I say DO IT!!! It never hurts to try something you are curious about, or interested in, because you never know the positive results you can gain from a unique opportunity such as this. Programs like this one do not exist everywhere, and getting the chance to apart of one is quite special. I can guarantee that people of all types and interests kind find a takeaway from this course, whether thats learning more about yourself, donations, charities, worldly causes, team work or planning a fundraiser. I would rather be given $25 to keep than $250 to give away. Now I know this answer seems selfish but the reason I would rather be given funds is because when donating you get no control over where your money is going and you are not included in the process of it being used to help a cause. If I was given $25 of my own I would use it towards creating my own event to support a cause I care about. For example, last year I created a Battle of the Bands at my school on a budget of $0, lots of planning, and a great support system, and we raised over $800! It is possible that with $25 more than $250 could be raised and during the process you can have the power over where your money is going and who it is impacting. I know at the beginning of this course I would have chosen option b, to donate $250, because at first glance it seems like the better answer. But what Main Street Philanthropy gets you to do is think deeper and harder about the change one can create, and become more creative with what resources you are presented.

Week 9 Blog

Week 9 was interesting. I had realized by then that the class was almost over and we did not have too much time together before the final day.

In class, now that we had gotten our organizations chosen and designated our fundraising money to a specific organization, it was time to reflect on the class as a whole and talk about the benefits and the experience we, the students, had achieved.

We also wrote little essays and reflections about what Main Street Philanthropy had accomplished for us, how our life perspectives on everything were changed to more positive and thankful and grateful ones, and how I will continue to make the world a better place by doing my part and advancing my vision for the world.

I talked about how this class was a very unique experience, one that I believe a lot of people should not overlook. This class was truly a unique experience for me because I do not believe that I will go this into depth into philanthropy and the philosophies behind it, and be able to actually communicate with real leaders of organizations and programs that are changing the world and making it a better place to live, and I thought that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I am very grateful for it. I realized through this program how many opportunities and chances I have to make my life better, and how grateful I should be for all of the privileges around me. This class has not only taught me important information on the logistics of philanthropy i.e. how to wisely donate money, trust the organization it is going to in order to make sure the money is being put into good use, and taxes and Form 990s that describe the income and outcome of money as well as purchases and profit. This class has taught me to love the people around me and truly put time and effort into making something happen that will benefit people who need my help, because I will experience joy and passion for the work that I have done and I will ultimately experience happiness, something that is rare at times because of all of the stress surrounding me with school, extracurricular activities, etc. in my life. I am thankful for this special program that has made me into a financially, educationally, and characteristically turned me into a wiser person with a bigger heart.

I hope to continue communicating with MSP and Yale as well as the organization that our group has decided to donate to through perhaps phone calls and (mostly) emails. I will definitely continue trying to help people in the general area of health, as our group had focused on helping sick children, which I think we will have accomplished by finally handing in our check to our organization. In the future, I will try to arrange different organizations regarding health such as soup kitchens that feed the hungry to allow Key Clubbers to participate and do service for the community. I will definitely tell my sister about this program so that hopefully if this program is also offered to her in high school, she will be able to learn more about the world and philanthropy through the teachers and the workbooks and the information that is taught to the students.

I hope MSP the best in the future and I would like to try to make this experience the start of something newer that will leave a positive imprint on the world.

Week 8 Blog

Week 8 was the time when our groups had to present to which organization(s) our final fundraising money was going to, and our group had met up earlier in the library to make a final decision.

In our presentation, we had included the results of the interviews with our family members and friends as well as finally revealing the amount of money we had raised as well as the organizations we would be giving our money to… and we chose one of the organizations that we thought really accomplished our Mission by supporting and helping sick children. I am glad that that organization would finally be receiving money to help suffering children with disease and cancer and our group hopes the money will be put into good use immediately so we can see the positive impact we have made on the world by helping those in need.

We wish our organization as well as all of the other organizations that Main Street will donate to will benefit greatly from our checks and make the world a better place.

Week 7 Blog

Week 7 was also a great and educational experience.

During class, we discussed the potential organizations that we could donate our fundraising money to, and tried to figure out which organizations/charities fulfilled our Mission, Purpose, and Vision statements that we had originally created back in Week 3. While we pondered those choices, we also tried to think about what organizations our money would actually make a difference in, i.e. what organizations we thought would really benefit from the moderate size of money we had raised from our fundraisers (i.e., the organizations that had been founded to serve the community recently or earlier than the other organizations that had been around for a little more time and therefore did not have as much time to grow and develop into a more wealthy organization).

We learned that our homework was to interview a parent or a loved one that we associate ourselves with and ask them deep philosophical questions as well as take a couple of moments to try to gain a deeper understanding and connection with him/her, which I thought was a great idea.

Through talking about the different possibilities of the organizations we would be presenting our money to, our team was able to bond and I am thankful for that.

Main Street Philanthropy Week 9

I love freewriting because it is an easy way to get all my thoughts out on paper without worrying about being graded on correct grammar or punctuation. When I am having a hard time, whether it is at school or at home, it is a great way for me to pinpoint exactly what is plaguing my mind because if the problem does not get on paper and stays floating in my head, I can convince myself that is just a passing dark cloud and make myself believe there is no problem. The activity we did in class this week was an activity I liked very much because of the writing. Truth be told, I did not answer the question until I was about three-quarters of the way down the college-ruled paper, but it was still fun. Freewriting like that is difficult to start, but once one does, it is like a snowball effect: one just keeps writing faster and faster as ideas flow from one’s mind through the pen onto the page. I wrote about the volunteering at soup kitchens or orphanages I want to do after my experience at Main Street Philanthropy and how I would make that happen. I have been looking up soup kitchens and orphanages near here, but unfortunately, there are very few near Millburn; the closest ones being in New York. However, I still am looking into ways to help children because I enjoy interacting with them the most. I hope to find a few that I am interested in over the winter break and give them a call.

Main Street Philanthropy Week 8

In class we presented our power points to the class. It was the first time all of our group’s money was together, and I could not believe how much we raised! Together we roughly made $390, and I cannot wait to present our checks to the organizations we have chosen. We wanted an organization that would match our mission: to help at-risk kids, and we found our match with Crossroads. They were unable to make it to our second panel class, which was very unfortunate as I am sure their presentation would have been very interesting. However, they have great tax records and are currently helping seven girls at their southern NJ location about our age. We are proudly donating 60% of our earnings to them to help buy the girls clothes, supplies, and holiday gifts. The second organization we did not expect to give to was Emmanuel Cancer Foundation, a charity that provides care for cancer patients during and after their treatment and are cured. Patients, they said, are welcome to stay as long after they are cured as they need to until they are back on their feet. My group and I just loved this organization because their services go beyond what is expected of a charity that helps cancer patients. They take care of the families of cancer patients instead of just the patients and provide food for financially disabled families or pay their electricity and water bills. I am very excited to go present the checks to the organizations next class and hopefully, we can find rides to go!

Week 8 Blog

This past week has been probably the most eventful in Main Street Philanthropy so far. First of all, the second panel class was very informative and interesting and I enjoyed meeting the representatives from the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and Bridge of Books. Both representatives were very helpful and we learned much more about their organizations, despite the fact that the charity we called, Crossroads, was unable to make the class. We learned that the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation helps the families of children who are terminally ill as they tend to undergo large amounts of financial and everyday stress struggling with the treatment of the child. The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation provides much-needed financial support, food deliveries, babysitting services, and counseling to the families of sick kids. Bridge of Books collects books to give to kids who are less fortunate and do not have access to a basic resource like books. This can help improve education and literacy rates in children. We also did all of our fundraising this week and went around our neighborhood selling candy canes and collecting donations. Emily and I were very proud that we raised around $130 from going around my neighborhood for two to three hours, despite the fact that it was very cold outside. Erin and Ilina raised around $250 in total, as well. We raised a little bit more during school afterwards from selling the leftover candy canes. Although maybe two or three people chose not to donate or buy a candy cane we were surprised at the amount of people who listened to us and donated when we went house to house. Also, doing the interview with my dad allowed me to learn more about his experiences with giving and handling money, especially considering he is a banker and is on a board of directors for a charity himself. I am looking forward to presenting our final checks to the charities in the coming weeks.

This past week, I really enjoyed learning more about the charities that came for the second panel class. What struck my attention the most was how the Emmanuel Cancer Orgnaization helped the family even after their child was cancer free which shows how much the organization really cares about the families. It was a great experience to fundraise for the Emmauel cancer foundation. We handed out panfletes to show  what the students buying from the bake sale were helping and why they should donate. This led to us making more money than we had expected. This past week was an overall great experience .